The cast and crew of CSUN’s “Ole for Hollywood” have reason to be proud. The Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival decided to nominate Amy Urbina and Amador Plascencia for Best Performers and the entire cast for Best Ensemble.
The KCACTF nomination is, as writer/director Cris Franco says, “a feather in everyone’s cap.”
According to Richard Bugg, the regional chair director of KCACTF, Urbina and Plascencia are two out of 250 students in a five-state region to be nominated. They now have the opportunity to prepare scenes and compete in the semi-finals at Southern Utah University in February. If they win, they will then go to the national finals in Washington, D.C.
Urbina, Plascencia and the rest of the “Ole” cast have not been given much information about the nomination besides being told about it, but all are honored by the distinction.
The play was written by CSUN alumnus Franco and with the collaboration of the cast, crew and costume designers, “Ole for Hollywood” was born.
“If it wasn’t for everybody – costume, prop, director, sound – then the show wouldn’t have run smoothly and no one would have looked good,” Plascencia said.
Justin Rabi, a cast member and CSUN senior, expressed the same sentiments as Plascencia, and added that without teamwork the play would not have been as professional as it was.
“I think it’s very appropriate that we were nominated. This show had heart,” Rabi said. “Everyone was so dedicated and constantly upbeat and supportive – it was just like a family.”
Rabi said that they probably had more fun before the show even opened.
Franco said in previous interviews that because of the actors’ many talents and affinity for impressions, the play was rewritten and revised numerous times. Rabi says that there was no part written for his Al Pacino character, but after his impression in the audition, Franco put him in.
“It’s a two-way street. There were talented actors and directors with vision who were open to suggestion,” Rabi said. “It really was a collaboration.”
The play’s originality and the cast and crew’s personal influence helped make it successful.
Urbina, Plascencia and Rabi all said that without everyone behind the scenes, the play would have fallen short of expectations.
“There was something like 400 cues on the soundboard,” Rabi said.
“The 15 cast members played 80 different characters – meaning there were 130 costume pieces and almost constant costume changes,” Urbina said.
The actors are unsure if they will attend the week-long festival in February, but the nomination itself will look good on everyone’s resume.
“I felt honored that the Kennedy Center actually acknowledged my performance, and the festival would be a great opportunity to meet people who are doing what I love to do,” Urbina said. But she said she needs more information before deciding if she will attend.
Urbina is a junior theater major at CSUN. “Ole for Hollywood” is the third play she has been involved with at CSUN. She says she will definitely audition for next semester’s plays, along with continuing to perform in plays outside of CSUN. While performing in “Ole,” Urbina was also in “Twelfth Night” for the Independent Shakespeare Company.
“Although I’ve been involved with outside shows, my loyalty is here. CSUN has been my base, my cornerstone,” Urbina said.
Plascencia is a senior theater major who plans on staying in Hollywood after graduation.
“I’m hoping to become an actual actor,” Plascencia said with a smile in his voice.
The cast and crew enjoyed working with Franco and his assistant director, because he is a working actor and graduate of CSUN.
“I learned so much from Cris and Armando, we all just tried to absorb their knowledge and expertise,” Urbina said.
“It was an honor for (Franco) to trust us with something he had been working on for 15 years,” Rabi said.
The nominated cast of “Ole for Hollywood” all agreed that it was Franco’s play and the teamwork involved that brought out the best in everyone.
“It was brilliant writing – SNL meets awards shows – a spoof on Latino representation with humorous political messages in every scene,” Rabi said.
According to Bugg, “Ole for Hollywood” was entered as an associate entry, not a participating entry. This means that the cast and nominated actors are welcome to attend the festival as individuals, but they will not be performing “Ole for Hollywood” in Utah.