Jimmy Nguyen, middle, was unable to compete at the national KCACTF conference but looks forward to his future in theater.

Senior theater major Jimmy Nguyen, among others, has been highly affected by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Many students within the theater department at Doane have had to alter their plans because of the ongoing pandemic. 

Nguyen is one of those whose plans have been affected by the current COVID-19 situation.

Head of the theater department Rob McKercher mentioned how COVID-19 has affected the theater, specifically senior students. McKercher mentioned senior Jimmy Nguyen who won “Best Actor” in the region and was going to compete in Washington D.C. in April. McKercher said the competition was cancelled rather than postponed, so Nguyen was not able to compete at all.

“Jimmy - with his partner, Abby Weber - had won the prestigious Irene Ryan Acting Scholarship competition at the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival Region V, beating out hundreds of fellow actors and their partners in a seven-state region,” McKercher said. “Jimmy was up against not only students in undergraduate programs but actors in all graduate programs who may have a decade or more of professional experience.”

Due to COVID-19, this competition was canceled completely. The event was not postponed to a later date. 

“Jimmy was to head to Washington D.C. to compete against seven other actors representing all the other regions in the United States,” McKercher said. “I have to reiterate this is the top eight actors in all colleges and universities in America.”

Jimmy Nguyen is a theater major at Doane who was intending on going to Michigan to be a part of an acting company after graduation in May. Nguyen was going to spend the summer in Holland, Michigan. 

“I would have been a part of the acting company for Hope Summer Repertory Theatre this summer in Holland, Michigan, where I would act in three shows and teach children's theatre,” Nguyen said.

After his time with Hope Summer Repertory Theatre, Nguyen was planning on moving to New York City to work at a theater that specializes in reviving classical plays.

These plans have since been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Nguyen now intends to stay in Omaha over the summer. He is unsure if he will be moving to New York at the end of the summer or not. 

Nguyen’s original plans for post-graduation are no more due to the ongoing pandemic, along with many others who work in theater. 

“Theatre has really suffered because we rely on getting a group of people together to put on a show and we rely on groups of people to come see the work that we produce,” Nguyen said. “The theatre world is already very much overlooked, and during this time of crisis, it is especially important for us to realize how much we turn to different forms of entertainment to occupy our time.”

McKercher noted Nguyen’s involvement in the national competition as an actor, saying that Doane had never taken actors to the competition before.

“I was thrilled for Jimmy and so saddened to have the rug yanked out from under his amazing accolade,” McKercher said.

The cancellation of this event means that Nguyen, as a senior, will never have the chance to represent Doane at the competition.

“It sort of breaks my heart that we had one student out of the top eight students in the United States that was going to represent us in Nationals, which is such a rarity, and he’s not going to be able to do that. It just crushes me,” McKercher said. “Everything in the industry is shut down.”

Nguyen said that the pandemic was not the end of his career.

“This pandemic is only an intermission to what's going to be an amazing second act. And when we are ready for the curtains to rise up again, you will either see me on stage doing what I love or in the front row supporting all my friends,” Nguyen said.