Katelyn McKelley Wins Mandelker Award from Florida Studio Theatre

by Jacob Coakley

Katelyn McKelley in Rap-Punzel at Florida Studio Theatre. Photo by Maria Lyle.The Daniel R. Mandelker and Marlene N. Harris Scholarship award from Florida Studio Theatre, won this year by Katelyn McKelley, honors the talent and drive of one FST intern who also exemplifies the mission and core values of FST.

fst announces the 2014 recipient of  the mandelker award: Katelyn mckelley

(Sarasota, FL) —Florida Studio Theatre is pleased to announce the 2014 recipient of the Mandelker Award is Katelyn McKelley. Every year, the staff of Florida Studio Theatre appoints one outstanding intern to receive the Daniel R. Mandelker and Marlene N. Harris Scholarship award. This award is given in recognition of their talent, drive, and achievement.  In addition, the person is chosen because they exemplify the mission and core values of FST and act as a model for others through their natural leadership.

 Mr. Mandleker and Ms. Harris spoke to the inspiration behind this generous award stating, "We believe that the scholarship support for young people working in a professional theatre is critical in our society. We hope the scholarships we provide will enable interns to continue their education and advance into the wonderful world of the theatrical arts."

McKelley is now in her second year of FST’s Acting Apprentice Company and has worked with students from all over Sarasota and Manatee counties teaching the art of playwriting through the Playmakers Tour. Having repeatedly graced the FST stages in the WRITE A PLAY productions of Under Six and this season’s WRITE A PLAY kick-off show, Rap-Punzel, she is no stranger to the FST stage. She understudied for last season’s World Premiere of Tom Jones, led classes through FST’s Theatre School, and is currently a cast member of FST Improv performing in Bowne’s Lab on Saturday evenings.

FST’s Associate Director Kate Alexander shared her thoughts about this prestigious honor stating,

“The requirements for the award are two-fold, talent and character.  We look for the qualities of leadership, acting a role model for others, and one who is a true partner in the collaborative theatre spirit. This last characteristic is worth describing for it is the noble art of responding to the collective effort of theatre that is special. As we work together, our world is not digitalized or compartmentalized. We are not working on an assembly line. One has to be ready to take on tasks large or small and doing so with the spirit that reflects the collective mission of the art. This cannot be taught in a school - it is more ancient - primitive. Talented and self–determined, her innate willingness to be generous of her time and self in every area makes her a true theatre professional  and one we believe in recognizing.”

Jason Cannon, Associate Artist and McKelley’s supervisor also shared his thoughts on McKelley’s contributions to FST. “Now in her second year apprenticeship with FST, Katelyn McKelley has become one of the beating hearts of the apprentice company and the WRITE A PLAY program. She has blossomed as a performer, earning a spot on FST's Improv troupe and anchoring the WRITE A PLAY show. She has become a reliable and compassionate teaching artist, supporting classes both on and off campus and even leading her own. But what makes Katelyn so uniquely valuable to FST is her kindness and generosity. In the often frantic and cutthroat business of theatre, she resonates with integrity and glows with a genuine warmth that makes her fellow cast members, co-workers, and students feel valued and safe. As her mentor and colleague, I am unabashedly proud of her progress as an artist and human being, and can think of no one more deserving for this honor. “

In her own words, McKelley shared her final thoughts on this achievement. "I became a part of Florida Studio Theatre at a very turbulent time in my life. FST has helped me grow into the artist, the colleague, the teacher, and the person, I never truly envisioned I could become. I feel a profound sense of empowerment in all aspects of my life. I have had not only the opportunity to grow in my craft, but also the privilege of growing as an individual. I have discovered more about myself in one year than I could have imagined. The memories and lessons I have been given here will influence me always. Being chosen to receive this award by mentors and colleagues that I so admire and respect means the utmost to me. I am so grateful. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for this honor."

About Florida Studio Theatre

Known as Sarasota’s Contemporary Theatre, Florida Studio Theatre was founded in 1973 by Jon Spelman. Starting out as a small touring company, FST traveled to places such as migrant camps and prisons. The company eventually settled down into a permanent home, acquiring the former Woman’s Club building – now renamed the Keating Theatre. In the years that followed, Florida Studio Theatre established itself as a major force in American Theatre, presenting contemporary theatre in its five theatre venues: the Keating Theatre, the Goldstein Cabaret, the renovated Gompertz Theatre, the John C. Court Cabaret and the new Bowne’s Lab Theatre. 

Even with its growth, Florida Studio Theatre remains firmly committed to making the arts accessible and affordable to a broad-based audience.  Under Richard Hopkins, Artistic Director and CEO, FST develops theatre that speaks to our living, evolving, and dynamically changing world.  As FST grows and expands, it continues to provide audiences with challenging, contemporary drama and innovative programs.