Westmont’s ‘Pirates’ Earns Top Accolades

Mak Manson, Paige Tautz and Ben Offringa

Mak Manson, Paige Tautz and Ben Offringa

The Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival has chosen Westmont’s production of “The Pirates of Penzance” to be performed at the regional festival Feb. 12-15 at the Los Angeles Theatre Center. Westmont’s is one of seven productions, out of nearly 50 participating shows, to be considered for the National Festival, April 14-19 at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. The regional festival is the highest honor, outside the national festival, that a college or university program can attain.

“This is a huge honor and a stunning achievement for our cast and creative team,” says John Blondell, chair of Westmont’s Theater Arts Department and director of the play. “The college has never been chosen to attend the regional festival, and it’s indicative of an incredibly talented and well-trained group of student artists and a terrific team of faculty directors and designers.”pirates3

Cast members Connor Bush (The Major General), Ben Offringa (Frederic) and Paige Tautz (Ruth) were selected to participate in the Irene Ryan Acting Competition, vying for regional scholarships and possible invitations to the Kennedy Center National Finals. Moreover, Andrew Combs (conductor) and Kelsey Pollard (stage manager) received Meritorious Achievement Awards for their work in the play.

The production includes Michael Shasberger (musical director), Danila Korogodsky (visiting scenographer from Cal State Long Beach), Victoria Finlayson (choreographer), Jonathan Hicks (visiting lighting designer and Huntington University in Indiana alumnus), Miller James (costume designer), and Robert Hamel (technical director).

Specific dates and times have not been released yet, but Westmont is expecting to perform “Pirates of Penzance” twice at the festival in Los Angeles. While there, the cast and crew will attend workshops, talks, classes and network with colleagues, peers, and professionals in the field. Blondell says “Pirates” will return to Santa Barbara for performances Feb. 22-23 in Porter Theatre.


  1. Not at all surprised! Congrats!!