RTHS theatre’s season-end awards dinner highlighted by new Nickason Theater Scholarships

The 2023 Donna (Murphy) Nickason Theater Scholarship winners: Vi Hull, Karma Lidren and Mikayla Preston.

Hull, Lidren and Preston win scholarships

ROCHELLE — Rochelle Township High School Theater Director Amy Creuziger took the podium at the May 5 theater department’s season-end awards dinner, recapped the year’s highlights and then said, “I am pleased to be here to present the Nickason Summer Theater Scholarship to three deserving students.”

“Late in the fall of 2022, RTHS received a lovely letter and a generous check from Donna Nickason (Donna Murphy, RTHS Class of 1974). Donna was so moved by a summer theater experience she had during her high school years that she wanted to pass it on,” Creuziger said

Nickason believes, “The experience and exposure of speaking and acting promotes team building, self-confidence and assists in any career a student might choose. I encourage the Rochelle School Board to see great value in these skill sets.”

Nickason said she wanted to, “Give honor to Clinton Clarke, our teacher, our motivator (who was) a great person as well as to other significant RTHS Theater students of the day including David Ledler, Ron Shields, Joan Allen, Don Gruben, Melanie Kubale, Deb Thiele, Alice McCaslin and many, many other drama students that set the bar for team building in the 70s.”

Creuziger then presented three students with 2023 Nickason Scholarships. They will attend theatre camp for five days and five nights this summer.  These students were asked to share in writing what theater means to them and why they want summer training. 

First, junior Violette Hull explained that theater is a “safe place to try things, and not be afraid.” 

Some of Vi’s theater contributions include: being the house manager for the spring play, Lost in Yonkers. Vi directed and performed in the Winter One Acts, Milo in The Phantom Tollbooth, Masha, in Vanya & Sonia & Masha & Spike and the Prince in Romeo & Juliet.

Next, Junior Karma Lidren: “Theater has helped me to express myself in ways I never imagined.” 

Karma most recently was Aunt Gert in Lost in Yonkers, as well as the student director, costume stitcher and scenic painter. Karma was a Winter One Act director and performer, The Mathemagician in The Phantom Tollbooth and when someone couldn’t go on, Karma stepped in to play the role of The Senses Taker. In Romeo & Juliet, Karma played Juliet.

And finally, senior Mikayla Preston: “Theater, to me, is a way to understand the world around us, and in a unique way to connect with ourselves and those around us by understanding the people we portray.”

This year, Mikayla served as acting guru, being available to answer questions and share acting suggestions with others. 

She played Bella in Lost in Yonkers 2023, and was a Winter One Act performer, writer and director this year. She played The Humbug in The Phantom Tollbooth, Sonia in Vanya & Sonia & Masha & Spike, Romeo in Romeo & Juliet, multiple roles in the spring play 2021, which was a movie RTHS-TV including the role of Pearl who we see from youth to middle age to old age, and a typical morning show host. 

Mikayla played Ebenezer Scrooge in A Christmas Carol The Radio Play, as a freshman was cast as Bella in Lost in Yonkers 2020 (COVID-19 prevented that show from ever going up) and fall her freshman year played a few characters in the in-the-round production of The Park Bench Plays including the role of Doreen in Alan Ayckbourne’s A Talk in the Park. 

Nickason has acted throughout her post high school life.  She has had roles in TV shows like Dallas and films like: Halt and Catch Fire, The Ritual, Inspector Mom, Friday Night Lights and The Safety of Others.  Donna reminds all Rochelle Hubs: “You are highly valued, important and the world is waiting for you!”