Stage Is True Love for GCU Sophomore
By Jennifer Willis
Photos by Jerry Bauer
For GCU sophomore Elizabeth Pabst, the theatre has always called to her.
“Ever since I was little, I’ve loved it,” she says. “I used to gather all my friends and we’d put on plays from an early age. Even now, I get my nieces and nephews together for performances.”Her true venture onto the stage, though, came in high school. She always had played sports but didn’t have the time to do both. So she hung up her soccer cleats and threw herself wholeheartedly into theatre, and she hasn’t looked back.
“I don’t regret the decision at all,” she says.
Pabst originally planned to study education, but GCU offered her theatre scholarship and she couldn’t turn it down.
“I’m getting to go to school to do what I love,” she says. “And I love it here!”
Last year, she appeared in “Inspecting Carol,” “The Comedy of Errors” and “The Frogs.” She’s currently playing the role of Essie in the Pulitzer Prize-winning play “You Can’t Take It With You,” a comedy that opened the Ethington Theatre Series last weekend and has a final weekend of performances starting Friday.
Essie is the adult daughter of a quirky but endearing family whose eccentricities provide for some comical situations.
“This is my favorite play that I have ever done,” Pabst says. “I love all of the characters. They remind me a lot of my own family — eccentric but lovable.”
She also loves playing the role of Essie, the oldest daughter of the household, an aspiring ballerina even though she has no talent at all. Essie spends most of the play frolicking around the house, practicing her ballet moves every chance she gets and making candy for her husband, Ed, to sell.
Like the rest of her family, she’s odd but full of love and sincerity.
“I love being able to share her with the audience,” Pabst says. “She’s just so warm and full of laughter. I kind of consider myself to be the Essie in my own family, so I don’t have to work hard to portray her.”
To prepare for the role, Pabst researched ballet techniques and choreography. Director Claude Pensis called on her to create her own choreography for the role, to keep the look amateur and not professional.
Pabst found this to be harder than expected.
“I usually do musical theatre, so I have a little bit of dance training,” she says. “But I’m lucky Essie is a bad dancer. Pulling together the choreography on top of saying my lines was definitely a challenge.”
It paid off, though, because reviews of the play’s opening weekend — and her performance — have been positive.
“Elizabeth is such a dedicated, hard-working actress who has been a pleasure to work with,” says Pensis, who is dean of the College of Fine Arts and Production. “She approached the role of Essie with great enthusiasm and energy.”
Says Pabst: “I just say a prayer and thank God before every performance. I’m extremely thankful for the opportunity to share the joy I have with others.”
Reach Jennifer Willis at 639.7383 or Jennifer.firstname.lastname@example.org.