December 4, 2020

Their final bow

Seniors perform on the Browning stage for the final time

DAVID NASH/ The Journal Ellen Bryan as the Mayor’s wife smothers the fake government inspector

Seniors Kelly Nienaltowski and Conor Edward Kelly Dagenfield took the stage of the Browning Theatre for the last time on April 24.

After four years of acting and assisting shows at the Conservatory of Theatre Arts, they will say their final goodbyes to Webster University when they graduate this May.

For her last show at Webster, Nienaltowski, an acting major, played the character Dobchinsky in the comedy, “The Government Inspector.”

Nienaltowski said she can’t believe this is her last show.

“It’s strange. It hasn’t hit me yet,” Nienaltowski said. “I know graduation’s coming. I’m packing up my stuff already, but it hasn’t sunk in. But what I realized the other day is this could be the last stage show that I do for a long time. So it’s kind of bitter sweet. It’s kind of emotional, so I’m just going to have fun.”

She said that along with missing the stage at Webster, she will miss the people she performs with.

“We spent so much time together, especially in the earlier years,” Nienaltowski said. “You can’t help but get to know each other and become a family. We joke that

DAVID NASH/ The Journal Michael Curtin performs as “The Judge,” in the final Conservatory play of the year, “The Government Inspector.”we don’t know anybody outside the Conservatory because we don’t have an opportunity to hang out with other people.”

Post-graduation, Nienaltowski is serious about breaking into films — a different direction for her, because she’s been involved in theater her whole life. Nienaltowski plans to travel to Los Angeles in the hope to be seen on screen in film or television.

“A lot of my friends are NY bound, but there’s a few who want to go to LA,” Nienaltowski said. “There’s a growing Webster alum in LA. I’ve already been talking to some of them who are out there and making some more connections.”

Conor Edward Kelly Dagenfield, an acting major who starred as the mayor in “The Government Inspector,” is also planning on going to LA. Dagenfield said he is glad he attended Webster instead of following the lead of other actors who head to LA or New York in search of jobs without any training.

“We have skills that we can fall back on as opposed to raw talent which you see a lot of in young actors, especially in Hollywood,” Dagenfield said. “They go out there and they’re new and they’re talented; they get like, ten roles right in the beginning and as people want more from them they drop off and kind of disappear. That’s why we need this degree.”

Dagenfield said over half the actors in the 13 member cast in “The Government Inspector” were graduating seniors, which included Michael Curtin, Allison Newman, John Kinney, Mandi Lee, Greg Fink, as well as Nienaltowski and Dagenfield. He said he is glad they got to experience this together.

“We work really well together because we’ve had four years of ensemble building and it’s always fun to go out on a comedy,” Dagenfield said. “Now we’re facing the real world after this and that’s terrifying.”

Jeff Awada, a professor of movement, worked very closely with the cast of the show. He said that he and the rest of the staff at the Conservatory will miss the students’ hard work and talent seen in their performances.

“Like any great college sports team, we will miss their experience,” Awada said.

Dagenfield will also search for on-screen acting jobs in LA. Nienaltowski said she is excited Dagenfield is coming to the same city she will be in and for their future as actors there.

“We’re going to be in movies and TV, maybe the Oscars,” Nienaltowski said. “It will happen.”

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