OGDEN -- If faces on the streets of downtown Ogden seem a little more tragic or comedic this week, blame it on the temporary influx of theater people.
About 900 students and faculty members from 40 universities have gathered at Weber State University for the performances, workshops, auditions and presentations of the Region 8 Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival. Groups are here from colleges in Utah, Southern California, Nevada, Arizona and Hawaii, and will stay through the closing ceremonies on Saturday.
"I know we've made Ogden's hotels happy," said John Binkley, Region 8 chairman. "We have 200 rooms at the Marriott and 50 at the Hampton Inn, and the rest had to find space at other hotels."
Binkley said schools that have been invited to perform in competition can pay as much as $25,000 to truck in scenery and costumes, and to finance housing for cast and support crew.
Tracy Callahan, Weber State performing arts teacher, said WSU theater student registration is higher than ever, because local students don't have to pay extra for room and board. And WSU's "Xanadu," one of the regional contenders for national honors, didn't require shipping because it's in its home theater.
Callahan said as far as she knows, it's WSU's first time hosting the festival.
"It was our turn," she said. "It's also a great way to show off our facility and our program. We can show everyone what Weber State has to offer."
WSU student Chris Shenefelt, who won a national playwriting competition at a previous festival, said more than 60 WSU theater students are volunteering to keep the festival on track.
Display areas to show the work of makeup, costume, set- and lighting-design students are in the Shepherd Union ballrooms and are open for public viewing. Registration is required to audition for awards or to attend the many workshops on directing, acting and design.
Members of the public can buy a $35 day pass, good for all activities and performances, but anyone who registers and hopes to attend shows should get to the theaters very early, because seating is limited and hundreds of visiting students also will be lining up.
All remaining performances are in the Browning Center. For more information, visit www.kcactf.org, or stop by the registration table in the Browning Center.
Weber State is at 3848 Harrison Blvd.