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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 24, 2004
CONTACT: Millie Gonzalez
Office of University Relations
908-737-NEWS (6397)
E-mail: mgonzale@kean.edu

Kean Student Wins Musical Theatre Competition

UNION, N.J. – –Kean University senior Kristen Bussiere won the coveted first-place award in the New Jersey Chapter of the National Society of Arts and Letters (NSAL) 2004 Musical Theatre Competition on Sunday, March 21. Held at the Alan P. Kirby Arts Center in the Lawrenceville (N.J.) School, the contest was judged by a panel of highly successful members of the theatre community. In addition to receiving a check for $600, Bussiere will travel to Champaign-Urbana, Ill., to attend NSAL’s annual convention from May 20 to 23, where she will participate in master classes and in the national competition for a first-place award of $10,000.

NSAL is a nonprofit organization that is dedicated to creating opportunities for young artists and has encouraged, sponsored, assisted and showcased artists at the beginnings of their careers in the visual, literary and performing arts. Each year, the organization holds competitions in varying categories of the arts on a rotating basis. This year, NSAL introduced its first contest in the category of Musical Theatre in celebration of its 60th anniversary. “I’ve been a member since 1964 and have had much opportunity to see what amazing talents emerge from these stringent competitions,” said Mary Elizabeth Young, chair of the New Jersey Chapter of NSAL. “Over the years, we’ve had many New Jersey winners place very highly nationally. The young lady who took first place in ballet in 2000 won second place in the national competition. She is now performing with the Joffrey Ballet.” Young went on to describe the challenging audition process. “Participants had to select two contrasting songs and one monologue that, put together, created a complete and seamless performance with a beginning, middle and end,” she said. “And, it all had to be done in five minutes or less.” Focusing on the theme of love, Bussiere’s winning selections were a monologue titled Fear of Dating from A Girl’s Guide to Chaos and the songs But Not for Me from Crazy for You and Gimmie, Gimmie from Thoroughly Modern Millie.

A gifted singer, dancer and actor, Bussiere is graduating from Kean this May with a bachelor’s degree in speech and hearing. She is also a theatre minor who has performed in nearly every student production since her freshman year and recorded a CD, titled Fly, which consists of pop-music cover tunes to help promote the University’s Department of Theatre. Behind the scenes, she has served as president of the Theatre Council of the Student Organization of Kean University, Inc. and secretary and treasurer for the Theatre Honor Society. Bussiere had her stage debut in the title role in a local production of Annie at the age of 5, and received most of her acting and vocal training by participating in numerous productions such as Sweet Charity, Guys & Dolls and Anything Goes with the performing-arts organization Kids on Stage. She received her vocal training as a member of the award-winning Edison (N.J.) High School Choir. More recently, Bussiere has lent her many talents to the lead roles in The Wizard of Oz and Peter Pan for Plays-in-the-Park in Edison.

“I entered the competition with no goal other than to have the experience,” said Bussiere. “Though musical theatre is my strength, I truly did not expect to win. In fact, once the third- and second-place winners were announced, I thought I was out of the running, so I was completely surprised when my name was called for top prize.” She added that she is very excited to attend the NSAL annual convention. “It will be so wonderful to be in the company of top performers from around the country and have the opportunity to participate in master theatre classes.” Though Bussiere plans to enter Kean’s graduate program in speech pathology in the fall of 2004, she also wants to pursue a professional career on the stage. “So many talented people in the region could have won this award, so taking first place has given me so much more confidence when it comes to having a career in theatre. It is a wonderful first step,” she said.