Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Denison Arts Festival Celebrates 50th Anniversary of 'Donna Reed Show'

DENISON — With a more targeted focus on Midwestern students than in past years, the Donna Reed Performing Arts Festival is scheduled from June 16 to June 21 in Denison.

The 22nd annual event is expected to bring students, both young people and adults interested in the arts, from a 300-mile radius for programs on theater performance, theater education, children’s musical theater, film production and screenwriting.

“The biggest impact of the festival still lies with tourism and drawing people to our area — and education,” said Kenny Kahl, festival coordinator.

Kahl said the programs aren’t just for aspiring actors or folks with the lights of Hollywood in their dreams. People in careers with a premium on public speaking also can benefit from the Reed Festival — started in honor the late famous actress from the Denison area.

“What we teach is valuable in any field,” Kahl said.

This year marks the 50th anniversary of “The Donna Reed Show.”

The first episode of “The Donna Reed Show” aired on Sept. 24, 1958. It ran for eight years and earned Donna Reed a Golden Globe in 1962 for best female television star.

Another highlight this year will be the continued presence of Eddie Foy III, a casting director for more than 40 years who at one time headed up ABC’s casting department. He will teach a class on marketing the actor.

There are many other popular courses, including “Children’s Musical Theater” for kids 6 to 13 who like to be in front of an audience. Private coaching for students interested in acting careers also is available.

An ambitious program is the Iowa Motion Picture Association’s one-week movie camp in which participants will learn elements of filmmaking with the goal of shooting and editing a short movie by the end the week.

Information on all classes is available at www.donnareed.org or by calling (712) 263-3334.

Donna Reed was born Donnabelle Mullenger in Denison, Iowa, on January 27, 1921. At age 16, she left Denison by train for Los Angeles to complete her formal education and to pursue her dream of becoming an actress. She captivated the country with her sensitive portrayals in films like the great American classic “It’s a Wonderful Life” and “From Here to Eternity” for which she won the coveted Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress.

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