The Free Press, Mankato, MN

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April 10, 2014

'Drowsy' double: Rare double-casting for Mainstage finale as student-actress earns national recognition

Rare double-casting for Mainstage finale as student-actress earns national recognition

As the glass shards scattered, Callie Syverson thought her last shot at one of collegiate theatre's top individual accolades was shattered.

Having been nominated along with 400 others in the six-state region for the Irene Ryan Acting Scholarship competition, the Minnesota State University senior had taken the stage in January at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln to perform with her partner, Jordan Oxborough.

As they performed before a panel of judges, and only midway through their routine, the pair finished a song — only to have their drinking glasses crash noisily and unmistakably to the floor. Though the two actors instantly re-composed and finished the performance with all the skill and poise they could muster, Syverson admitted her confidence was shaken.

"My heart was broken afterward," said the Windom native. "But then people started congratulating us."

Apparently, the judges recognized what MSU theatre instructor and department chair Paul Hustoles has known for a long time.

With the opening of "The Drowsy Chaperone" today at the Ted Paul Theatre — which represents the Mainstage season's concluding production and the department's penultimate production of the 2013-14 season — Syverson has earned nearly a dozen roles during her time at MSU.

From Eponine in "Les Miserables" to Wendla in "Spring Awakening," Hustoles said of Syverson: "Pretty much if she shows up — she gets cast."

Along the way, Hustoles said, Syverson has proven herself a talented and reliable performer. Gifting her with one of theatre's highest compliments — he calls her a "triple-threat" for her ability to sing, dance and act at a high level — Hustoles said there are none better to represent MSU at the national finals for the Irene Ryan competition next week in Washington, D.C.

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