Sterling College Theatre’s “The Crucible” recognized

Sterling College seniors Luke Harding (kneeling) and Katie Lumbert played John and Elizabeth Proctor in “The Crucible.” Both were nominated for the Irene Ryan Acting Awards by the American College Theatre Festival recently. The college performed Arthur Mi
Thursday, January 4, 2024

The Sterling College Theatre production of Arthur Miller’s classic play, “The Crucible,” staged in November of last year, has been cited for excellence by the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival. Various elements such as set and lighting design, direction and individual performances were cited for the show.

A cast of 23 were featured in the show along with set design by Emily Jones and lighting by Noah Svaty who were both honored for their work. 

Sterling College Arts Director Dennis Dutton stepped in to direct “The Crucible” after a late staffing change at the college. The show was presented as a special high school matinee in addition to the three evening performances during the week before Thanksgiving. 

The Sterling production was critiqued by theatre professor John Wehmeyer from Truman State University. He said, “You are all to be commended for an excellent production. All the elements came together nicely, and it was a unified, polished whole. Act 1 was done before I knew it and Act 2 flew by. It moved so well and kept moving forward. Well done.”

“I was proud of the students and their work to pull this demanding show together in a short amount of time. Dr. Weheyer was enthusiastic in his response and specifically cited the acting of the large ensemble as well as the leading performances and was quite complimentary of set, lights, costumes, and wigs. That was a great way to end the fall semester,” Dutton said. 

Two of the cast were nominated for Irene Ryan Acting Award consideration: senior Katie Lumbert of Rose Hill who played Elizabeth Proctor and senior Luke Harding of Sterling who played John Proctor. Through this nomination both students will be able to compete at the regional level and, if chosen, may go on to compete for the national award in Washington, D.C. Lumbert and Harding plan to attend and compete at the regional KC/ACTF Conference in Des Moines, Iowa later this month.

Wehmeyer particularly praised the set design by senior student Emily Jones of Wichita. He said, “The set showed a very austere, humble community and was clearly inspired by Puritan architecture. I thought the use of a raked stage was a great design choice and made for some interesting stage pictures.”

He also cited the lighting design by sophomore Noah Svaty and his use of color and intensity to match the action of the production. He also mentioned the era specific and effective costume design and the many wigs used in the show, mentioning how unusual it was to have a show where so many of the men wore wigs but only one was used for a female character. 

Sterling College Music Theatre faculty Marisa Callan, along with Technical Theatre Director Brian Sechrist, will take 16 theatre students to the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival Region 5 conference in Des Moines. The cast of Vanities: the Musical will perform a scene from their show and many of the Sterling students will participate in various workshops, compete in the acting category, and audition for various summer theaters.  

Sterling College is a Christ-centered, four-year college located in Sterling, Kansas, with a mission to develop creative and thoughtful leaders who understand a maturing Christian faith. For more information, visit