Actor Spotlight: Sydney Orellana

Theatre major portraying several roles in Spoon River Anthology

Sydney Orellana, 20, is earning her Transfer Pathway Associate of Fine Arts (A.F.A.) in Theatre at Inver Hills Community College with the goal to graduate in 2023. Sydney is performing in the Inver Hills Theatre production of Spoon River Anthology by Edgar Lee Masters.

Showtimes are Thursday, November 18, Friday, November 19, and Saturday, November 20, 2021, at 7:30 p.m. in the Fine Arts Theatre on the campus of Inver Hills Community College in Inver Grove Heights, Minnesota. A fourth performance will be held Sunday, November 21, 2021, at 1:30 p.m., also in the Fine Arts Theatre.

The Theatre department is proud to deliver a new telling of this piece of classic American literature adapted by Shawna C. Evans and directed by George M. Roesler. From the pen of one of America’s greatest folk poets and storytellers comes an exploration of the depth of common human experiences. Poetic selections from Edgar Lee Master’s Spoon River Anthology celebrate the living as only the dead can tell it.

Sydney will be portraying nine different characters in the play:

  • Townsperson 1
  • Hannah Armstrong
  • Zilpha Marsh
  • Dora Williams
  • Sonia
  • Petit, the Poet
  • Hortense Robbins
  • Eugene Carman
  • Ida Frickey

“Playing multiple characters may seem a difficult task to do, but it actually isn’t that difficult,” Sydney explained. “Of course, it takes some time to get used to, but once you get into the flow of everything, it’s pretty easy.”

Sydney added that she really likes studying all the interesting characters and getting to know their different stories.

“Some characters have happy memories and some do not,” she said. “So seeing all of these different points of views and hearing some of the characters mentioning another character makes you think, ‘I can’t wait to see what this character’s life was like!'”

Sydney Orellana Spoon River Anthology gallery

View more event photos by visiting the Inver Hills Flickr album:

Spoon River Anthology

In April 2021, Sydney performed in the Inver Hills Theatre production of two short plays, The Bear by Anton Chekhov and Wedding Bash by Andrew Leeds and Lindsey Kraft.

“In The Bear, I played Popova, a young, wealthy widow who eventually falls for the man who her deceased husband owed money,” Sydney said. “In Wedding Bash, I played Dana, a newlywed who hosts a dinner party with her husband, Lonny. Once the conversation moves toward Dana and Lonny’s wedding, conflict rises when their friends, Alan and Edi, tell their honest opinion about the wedding.”

Sydney enjoyed playing two characters who are total opposites. “Popova was more of prim and proper woman who had some attitude,” she pointed out, “and Dana was quick to anger in a comical way.”

In May 2021, Sydney performed in the Inver Hills Theatre production of An Assembly of Phantasms, which appeared on the Inver Hills YouTube channel. The presentation featured two acts. “The Hitchhiker” by Lucille Fletcher tells the story of a man named Ronald Adams, who keeps encountering the same solitary hitchhiker as he drives alone across the country. At first, Adams is curious as to how the hitchhiker seems to be everywhere he goes, but then his sense of dread gradually increases.

The second act, “…And an Echo Murmured Back,” is based on the works of Edgar Allan Poe. Shawna C. Evans wrote the adaptation. Her characters are alive, but engrossed with death.

“Being a part of An Assembly of Phantasms was not only fun, but also the first play over Zoom that I had ever done,” Sydney said. “It was a little intimidating at first because I had no idea how it was going to play out since all of us back then were still relatively new to Zoom. But once everything was figured out and things went smoothly, it was a great experience.”

Theatre Transfer Pathway A.F.A.

The Theatre Transfer Pathway Associate of Fine Arts (A.F.A.) offers you a powerful option: the opportunity to complete your A.F.A. degree with course credits that allow you to transfer with junior-year status to designated theatre bachelor’s degree programs at one of the seven Minnesota State universities.¹

The Theatre Transfer Pathway A.F.A. consists of the Required Pathway Curriculum, the Minnesota Transfer Curriculum (MnTC), and electives to bring your credit total to 60 credits.


Sydney also acquired acting experience in high school. She attended South Heights Christian, a co-op high school in Burnsville where students are either home-schooled or complete coursework online.

“I did little, in-class plays as a part of projects,” she said. “One of the play projects included scenes from old classic TV shows such as I Love Lucy, The Carol Burnett Show, and The Abbott and Costello Show. My senior year we did a play called The Hiding Place, which is based on a true story set during World War II. I played a young Jewish mother named Rachel Weiss.”

In 2019, Sydney graduated from Penn Foster, the largest high school in the U.S. with 60,000 students. At the end of this month, she’ll be moving to Rochester, Minnesota, where she’ll study esthiology at the Aveda Institute. You can learn more about esthiology by visiting Defining Esthiology. Her goal is become a licensed medical esthetician.

“I would love to work in a spa or a wellness center,” Sydney reported. “I like that this career can help people feel fresh and new—I’m all about making people feel confident and empowered. Being able to help someone feel confident and good is a great feeling. I definitely want to see where life takes me after I graduate from Aveda. With that being said, I am definitely inclined to return to Inver and finish my A.F.A.”

“Sydney is very intelligent and creative. Her attitude is positive, enthusiastic, and she is ready to work hard to achieve the desired results in the classroom and on stage. Her drive to learn is rooted in her desire for personal and professional improvement.”
George Roesler, MFA
Theatre and Communication Studies Faculty
Inver Hills Community College

More about Sydney…

Originally from Hastings, Minnesota, Sydney belongs to a blended family. “Jennifer and Yony are my parents,” she related. “I also have a stepdad named Rich and a stepmom named Marina. I have two older stepsisters, Alina, who is the oldest at 26, and Rachel, who’s 21. I also have one half-sister named Isabel, who’s 10 years old.”

In her free time, Sydney enjoys water-color painting, yoga, traveling, collecting vinyl records, and going to concerts.

“I have an eclectic taste in music,” she said. “I like Fleetwood Mac, Ed Sheeran, Harry Styles, and The Weekend. I’ve been fortunate to attend a lot of concerts in my life. The best and most recent concert I attended was when Harry Styles was at the Xcel back in September. Seeing everyone come together and enjoy a show after a difficult year was really great. And, of course, Harry’s energy on stage was spectacular!”

Sydney resides with her family in Hastings.

One word that best describes your experience at Inver Hills:


¹ I chose this word because when I started my first semester at Inver in spring 2020, I had a great experience on campus for the first few months, but then the pandemic hit. The challenging part was getting used to doing classes solely online and, on top of that, not being able to do in-person plays.

Sydney Orellana Q & A

Sydney Orellana
What do you love most about acting?

I love being able to put my own twist on characters and making them my own. Being able to create a character as your own is a great way to push yourself into breaking out of your shell and pushing the limits to create something unique. Especially when you play multiple characters in a play—it’s a fun way to make every character different.

What is your greatest strength as an actor?

Being able to take on multiple roles and memorize the lines in a short amount of time.

Three words that describe you as an actor:

What is the toughest part about performing live?

Staying in the moment of the scene and staying in character if there are any distractions or noises in the audience.

What role would most like to play?

I would either love to play Fanny Brice from Funny Girl or Mrs. Lovett from Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street. Both characters are different yet they have some similarities. They both want love and success with either having a famous pie shop (Mrs. Lovett) or becoming the greatest star (Fanny Brice). Both musicals are entertaining with their stories and music.

What play do you consider your all-time favorite and why?

If I have to choose just one, it would have to be The Crucible by Arthur Miller. Back in the spring semester 2021. I took a script analysis class, and one of the plays that we had to read was The Crucible. The play is about the Salem witch trials, but told in a dramatized and fictionalized story. The stories of the characters are captivating, and you see how this little village is filled with hysteria that is tearing their small community apart.

What advice would you give high school students thinking about pursuing theatre at the college level?

Read plays from different time periods and, most importantly, don’t be afraid to put yourself out there and step out of your comfort zone. Participating in plays and getting involved with theatre classes is a great way to make connections and meet new people. The theatre community at Inver Hills is supportive and feels like a tight-knit family.

Three words that describe you as a college student:

What person has influenced your life the most and why?

My mom has been the biggest influence in my life. Not only is she my #1 fan and supports me with my decisions with education or career paths, but seeing her strong work ethic has always showed me that with hard work comes great things and success.

Where do you see yourself in 20 years?

I hope to either have my own business in the beauty and skin care industry, or be working as a medical esthetician. And, of course, I will still be involved with theatre and acting!

About the Theatre department at Inver Hills

The Theatre department at Inver Hills offers a wide variety of courses, both practical and theoretical, that will give you the experience and knowledge you need to harness your talent. You can begin by taking introductory film, cinema and theatre courses that teach you how to view and analyze performances. You can follow through by taking practicum courses that provide hands-on learning in essential theatrical areas, including:

  • Acting
  • Directing
  • Oral interpretation of literature
  • Set construction
  • Scene painting
  • Lighting
  • Props
  • Makeup
  • Publicity
  • Costuming
  • Stage management
  • Creative drama for children

The Theatre department features two venues ideally suited for live theatrical performances, the 300-seat Inver Hills Theatre and the more intimate Black Box Theatre. The former features three plays a year, including a children’s play in April for students in area elementary schools.


Sydney Orellana 12 Answers

  1. Favorite physical activity: Yoga and kayaking
  2. Place you would most like to visit: 
  3. The most exciting thing you’ve ever done:
 Back in the summer of 2019, I spent one month in Europe; I was with a tour group and we went to England, France, Switzerland, Italy, Germany, and The Netherlands
  4. Three things you would do if you won a $1 billion lottery: 1)  Give to charities I am passionate about 2) Help any family or friends if they are struggling 3) Travel
  5. Favorite TV show you’re watching now:
 The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, or any show on TLC
  6. Time period you would explore if you could time travel:
 I would to either explore the 1960s or the 1970s; I love the music from that era so I would love to go to concerts from my favorite artists from that era
  7. One thing you most want to accomplish in life: Get my esthetician license
  8. Your national bird if you were your own country:
  9. Dream occupation:
 Medical esthetician
  10. Person you would most like to meet: 
Barbra Streisand
  11. Skill you would most like to learn and master: 
Grow my own food
  12. Most important issue or problem facing humankind: Food security—across 93 countries there are an estimated 957 million people who do not have enough to eat; the problem is a lack of access to food—either they do not have enough money to buy food, or they are unable to grow their own food due environmental reasons
Learn more about Spoon River Anthology and the Theatre Transfer Pathway A.F.A. at Inver Hills by contacting:

George M. Roesler, MFA
Theatre and Communication Studies Faculty

² Transfer Pathways
With this transfer pathway, you will be able to transfer to the following majors at:

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