James performs at The Kennedy Center in Washington D.C. 2015
In his most recent participation in the annual Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival in region 5, James Ehlenz was invited to perform "The Gun Song" from Assassins at The Kennedy Center in Washington D.C. in late April. He was joined by fellow students Adam Yankowy, Erin Horst, and Matthew Stairs.
The invitation came from Gregg Henry, Artistic director of KCACTF. Henry was in the audience of the Musical Theatre Intensive (MTI) performance which took place on the McGuire Proscenium stage at the Guthrie Theater on Friday, January 16th. The MTI is a workshop in which students audition to workshop their musical theatre numbers. There were 60 acts that auditioned, and 20 of those were chosen to workshop with seasoned professionals. After the workshop, the 20 selected acts put on a cabaret performance.
Henry was moved by the performances, and decided to do something that has not been done before in this region. He invited "The Gun Song" to the Kennedy Center to perform. Not only do the students get to perform, but they also get to spend a week in Washington D.C. to participate in the National Festival along with all of the regional Irene Ryan winners. This all-expense-paid trip was given to all four involved in "The Gun Song," and also to two others from the MTI performance. Cassandra Johnson and Jordan Oxborough performed "People Like Us" from The Wild Party and they also happen to come from Minnesota State University, Mankato.
The Spitfire Grill
"James Ehlenz is charming as sheriff Joe"
--Cherry and Spoon
Lyric Arts Main Street Stage
October 16-November 1
Irene Ryan Finalist
James also participated in the Irene Ryan Scholarship audition at the festival. There were 314 nominees in the preliminary round. Of the 314, 64 advanced to the semi-final round. Of the 64, 16 were selected as finalists. Among those 16 was James along with his partner Steven Labine. The 16 finalists got to perform on the Wurtele Thrust stage at the Guthrie Theater.
James as Luke Skywalker
Friday, September 30th, 2016 at The Historic Mounds Theatre in St. Paul
Fringe Festival Success: A Mariokart Named Desire
James played King Bowser Koopa in this musical parody of the Super Mario Bros. The production played at the Strike Theater in Northeast Minneapolis and it received the encore performance. This is where the show with the highest attendance per venue throughout the festival gets an added bonus performance.
James was the dialect coach for Nice Work If You Can Get It at Lyric Arts in Anoka, MN. The show was well received and this was James' first time working at Lyric Arts outside of acting. The show ran July 8th to August 7th.
James played Homer in Anatomy of Gray at Lyric Arts in Anoka. This was his second time in this role. The show ran April 22nd to May 8th.
James played Benny in Guys and Dolls at Anoka-Ramsey Community College. This was also his second time in this role. The show had invited alumni of the college to be part of the production in celebration of the theatre department's 50th anniversary. It ran February 12th to the 20th.
Crane River Theater
In order to fulfill his final credits at Minnesota State University, Mankato, James needed to participate in a professional summer stock theatre company. He decided to join Crane River Theater in Kearney, Nebraska for the summer. There, he played Kerchak in Tarzan the Musical, Pharaoh in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, and also performed in several acts in their Celebrate Broadway Series.