Theatre Students Win Rave Reviews at Gompers Center

April 21, 2011 / by / 0 Comment

By Doug Carroll
Communications Staff

Nearly two dozen students from Alpha Psi Omega, the national theatre honor society, took the show on the road Wednesday to Gompers Habilitation Center, not far from GCU’s west Phoenix campus.

The center, which has a day program serving developmentally disabled adults, was ready for the thespians. Its gymnasium was packed for a first-ever program of improvisational comedy coordinated by freshman Adam Benavides, one of the most talented performers in the College of Fine Arts and Production as well as Alpha Psi Omega’s president.

For about an hour, the student actors had their audience roaring with laughter over a series of a dozen short skits pulled together despite a limited amount of practice. Barb Fickers, the chief operating officer at Gompers, said the fast-paced show succeeded at holding the attention of the clients.

“They were focused, and we can tell when they’re not,” Fickers said. “This was great.”

Especially popular were highly visual skits that included Benavides and Jake Swanson as two guys on a fishing trip, experiencing different degrees of success; a fictitious dating show titled “I Really Need a Girlfriend,” hosted by Swanson and starring Nathan deLaet as a dim-witted bachelor; and a medieval-courtship bit in which Benavides and Dan Cocca played five roles between them.

“We were a little concerned about how it would go, but I thought the audience was awesome,” Benavides said afterward. “You have to play everything big and dramatic with something like this.”

Shelby Athouguia, who played the host of a made-up TV show called “Cooking With Shakespeare” (where a ham omelette becomes a “Hamlet”), said GCU has an Improv Club but other commitments this year haven’t left much time for it. She said she expects that to change in 2011-12, with auditions being held and comic productions being staged on campus.

“We’ve been workshopping improv comedy in our acting classes,” she said.

Cocca said that no matter the venue — Ethington Theatre, Gompers, wherever — GCU’s theatre students won’t settle for mediocrity when it’s show time.

“One of our main things is that we want everything to be of quality,” he said.

Reach Doug Carroll at 639.8011 or [email protected].

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