Articles tagged with: Ethington Theatre
There’s no getting around the seasonal nature of certain jobs. Santa Claus in December. A tax accountant in April. And the FangMaster in October. The FangMaster? That would be the self-chosen nickname of Rod Jakubik, who makes custom vampire fangs out of his garage in north Tempe — and outfitted the GCU production of “Dracula” with them. Jakubik, 53, a dental technician, has a day job making removable dental appliances such as dentures, partials and retainers. But in the evening he lets the FangMaster out to play, creating not only realistic Dracula-style teeth but a host of other varieties.
Those who packed the theatre over the weekend expecting a campy stage version of Bram Stoker’s 1897 novel experienced something else entirely: an armrest-gripping thriller that’s easily the most serious, ambitious work the GCU theatre program has done since returning last fall from a four-year hiatus. “Dracula,” using American playwright Steven Dietz’s true-to-Stoker script written in 1996, unifies Assistant Dean Bill Symington’s staging, Dean Claude Pensis’ lighting and Nola Yergen’s costuming as never before. Even more remarkable is this: Five of the seven main characters in Friday’s opening-night performance were new to the Ethington stage — including three freshmen. From their polish and poise, you’d never know it.
How could GCU’s College of Fine Arts and Production possibly top the success of last year’s Ethington Theatre Series? Sophomore Nathan de Laet was wondering the same thing over the summer as he reported for rehearsals of “You Can’t Take It With You,” the comedy that opened this year’s series in early September. Dean Claude Pensis supplied the answer early on. “Last year was fun,” Pensis told the student cast, “but this year will be a step up.”
Insisting that “there’s never a good time or a bad time to be in the arts,” Phoenix Symphony music director Michael Christie gave an insightful talk Tuesday night at Ethington Theatre, sharing career tips with the student audience. Christie, only 37, is already in his eighth season as the symphony’s maestro. A former trumpet player from Buffalo, N.Y., he went to school at Oberlin (Ohio) College and his career took off from there. When he won a conducting competition in Finland as a college junior, his path became clear.
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.
“You Can’t Take It With You,” the Pulitzer Prize-winning play that opened the Ethington Theatre Series over the weekend, is every bit as entertaining as last year’s opener, the musical “The Pirates of Penzance.” And, just as “Pirates” was bolstered by first-rate performances from several GCU alumni, the comedy by Moss Hart and George S. Kaufman has a show-stealing turn by 1990 graduate Michael Hegeman. Friday night’s premiere played to a nearly sold-out theatre.
Any actor can dream of Broadway. Mike Hegeman dreams of a small, 300-seat theatre in west Phoenix — more than 20 years after he performed there as a college student. Forgive him, then, for pinching himself when the curtain is raised Friday on “You Can’t Take It With You,” the Pulitzer Prize-winning comedy that opens the Ethington Theatre Series for 2011-12 at GCU.
Psalm 100 speaks of making a joyful noise to the Lord, and four GCU choirs took the passage to heart at Ethington Theatre on Tuesday evening. “Gospel and Song!” brought together New Life, the Canyon Singers, the Canyon Chorale and the CBM Ministry Gospel Choir for an hour of uplifting music, much of it a cappella and all of it rhythmic and passionate.
Like an old friend who has been away for too long, the College of Fine Arts and Production formally reintroduced itself to Grand Canyon University over the weekend with the premiere of the high-spirited Gilbert and Sullivan musical “The Pirates of Penzance.”
Ahoy! GCU’s first musical of the 2010-2011 season won’t just be ANY musical. The cast of The Pirates of Penzance will be comprised of students, staff, faculty, and alumni. Many of the leads for this production will be alumni of GCU’s original College of Fine Arts (some of whom are now professional actors). Climb aboard, and meet the incredible cast of this swashbuckling musical!