Lee named finalist

Published 12:00 am Sunday, January 13, 2002

Features Editor

Tori Lee, a Troy State University candidate in the prestigious Irene Ryan Competition and Scholarship Program, was one of 16 finalists in the competition held at Spartanburg, S.C. Feb. 5-10.

A record number of nearly 300 candidates compete for the scholarship awards during the (Region 4) American College Theater Festival.

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Adena Moree, director of theater at TSU, said Lee was outstanding in her performance.

"The comments on her response sheet all the way through were on the honesty of her performance and her ability to portray her character," Moree said. "And, of course, her pretty voice."

Six TSU students were candidates for the Irene Ryan competition and Moree said they and their partners represented TSU well.

"Troy State was well represented and richly rewarded," she said.

Lee was the first TSU student to advance to the final round in almost 10 years.

When her name was announced as a finalist, Lee was in the balcony other TSU candidates and her partner, Dean Muhammad, was somewhere else.

"That shows you that we didn’t expect it," Lee said, laughing. "There were so many talented people in the top 40 and we were just proud to have made it that far. We really had no idea we would advance."

Each nominee performs with a partner and Lee said Muhammad was an outstanding partner.

"I owe a lot to him," she said. "He was fantastic."

Lee said to be a finalist in the Irene Ryan program is a great honor and one she will always cherish.

"Walking through the lobby of the Adams Center Theater, I always look at the photographs of the TSU finalists in the American College Theater Festival," she said. "Now, to think that my photograph will be among them. It’s just a great honor. I’m humbled by it."

For Lee, the experience of competing was thrilling and a little knee-knocking.

"The initial round of competition was on Wednesday and we were in a tiny room with two judges," she said. "We had five minutes to perform the scene and the song."

Lee was one of 46 nominees who chose to sing as part of their auditions.

"This year, there was a record number of singers – 46 – and it was good to see that more students are beginning to embrace musical theater," she said.

Lee sang "Disneyland" from the musical, "Smile" and her scene was from "My Sweet Charlie," a piece about the Civil Rights movement.

When Lee’s name was called as one of 40 semi-finalists, she was thrilled.

"The semi-finalists perform on stage for anyone who wants to come and watch," she said. "It’s a highlight of the festival and, to be quiet honest, I was just so proud to have advanced to that level. I would have been very satisfied, just making the top 40."

But, Lee had another opportunity to perform on stage at the festival as a finalist.

Only four singers were among the 16 finalists from which two alternates and two candidates were chosen to perform at the National Theater Festival at the Kennedy Center.

"Those candidates were so terribly talented," Tori

said. "They were wonderful. And, I was so proud of the great representation from our theater department at Troy State. Everyone did an outstanding job and Troy State was well represented. Troy State made a good showing and I’m sure what was learned this year will be helpful to those who return next year."

Lee said the festival included a large variety of theater workshops and theatrical shows from across the region that were also competing to advance to the Kennedy Center. Birmingham Southern represented Alabama at the festival and its theater company performed "Hamlet, the Musical."