Theater Success Sets Stage for Babson Students to Act on Creativity, Collaboration

Two students raise their arms during the stage performance

When Madison Roberts ’25 first stepped foot onto Babson College’s close-knit campus, she never envisioned she would perform on stage, never mind make the regional finals at the prestigious Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival (KCACTF). 

“I was a super timid person. I remember being quite shy when I first came to campus,” Roberts said. “I liked giving presentations, and I could speak if I wanted to, but my voice would always waver, and I would get really anxious.” 

Roberts’ sister was the thespian of the family, while Madison kept her focus on finance and real estate. But, a class analyzing the American dream, taught by Babson Associate Professor Beth Wynstra, sparked Roberts’ interest in acting and led to Babson’s first invitation to compete in the five-day KCACTF. 

“I am incredibly proud of these actors and about this historic moment for theater at Babson,” said Wynstra, who directed Kingdom City, the production that sparked Babson’s invitation to compete in the regional KCACTF. Wynstra and Kingdom City actors Roberts, Bri Hughes ’25, and Vishal Sharma ’25 attended the festival, which ran from January 30 to February 4. 

“I am incredibly proud of these actors and about this historic moment for theater at Babson.”
Babson Associate Professor Beth Wynstra, who directed Kingdom City

Hughes and Roberts also were nominated for the highly esteemed Irene Ryan Acting Scholarship, and Roberts made it to the finals in the regional acting competition. 

“The thought of being on stage at Babson and performing in front of my peers was pretty terrifying, never mind going to this festival that is specifically for actors,” Roberts said. “I didn’t think that I would ever be in a place where I was on their same tier.” 

Electric Energy

Hughes already had plenty of theater experience before her role in Kingdom City, but the festival was something she has never experienced. 

Four people smile while posing for a photo
With Kingdom City, the Babson team—from left, Madison Roberts ’25, Associate Professor Beth Wynstra, Vishal Sharma ’25, and Bri Hughes ’25—thrived at the KCACTF, where Hughes and Roberts were nominated for the highly esteemed Irene Ryan Acting Scholarship.

“We got there, and the energy was just electric,” Hughes said about the regional gathering, which was held at Central Connecticut State University in New Britain, Connecticut. The difference from Babson’s business-focused campus and hordes of student actors from across New England was conspicuous. 

“There were people wearing silly hats, the hair was all kinds of different colors, even the presenters were just very goofy,” Hughes said. “I remember we all just looked at each other and we’re like, ‘This is not Babson.’ ”

Despite the culture shock, the Babson team began to fit in as the competition progressed. By the time Roberts qualified as one of 16 finalists out of 300 contenders for the scholarship, she felt more comfortable.  

“The finalists were all in a holding room, and I walked into the middle of this vocal warmup session. Everyone was doing all these body warmups and massaging their face,” Roberts said. “That was the point where I was like, these are real actors, and they have so much experience and they have all this guidance from their coaches. 

“I also realized that, by being in that room, I was one of them,” Roberts said. “Even though I felt kind of like an impostor at some points, I seamlessly slipped in and followed what they were doing. And, I suddenly felt like I belonged.” 

The Finale 

Although Roberts didn’t take home the scholarship, the festival and her experience with theater has shifted her studies. Roberts was recently awarded a Glavin Global Fellowship Grant to study the performing arts in London. 

“I think the performing arts really helps business students, not only with public speaking, but also when it comes to working together as a team,” Roberts said. “I think that’s important to know, because sometimes in a business environment, it can feel really competitive. But, you are all working toward a similar goal, and that is important to keep in mind as students and as future colleagues and employees.”

“Being an entrepreneur here can help you and push you forward because it’s all about making your own path and forging your own identity in this world.”
Bri Hughes ’25

 Hughes, who is considering a career offstage in arts administration or production, pointed out that Babson’s entrepreneurial spirit isn’t all that different than many creative careers. 

“Being an entrepreneur here can help you and push you forward because it’s all about making your own path and forging your own identity in this world,” Hughes said. “I think there’s so much overlap between being a creative person and being an entrepreneur. Being at Babson has shown me the path to creating my own work and crafting my future rather than just going and working somewhere.” 

Posted in Community, Entrepreneurial Leadership, Outcomes

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