That’s (Free) Entertainment: Concert, Comedy End Year With a Bang
By Doug Carroll and Michael Ferraresi
GCU News Bureau
The southeastern corner of campus was transformed into something of an entertainment district Wednesday night by a year-end awards concert from the Music Department and a fast-moving, 90-minute set of improvisational comedy.
The concert, at First Southern Baptist Church adjacent to campus, presented three of GCU’s choirs plus five soloists, three of them graduating seniors.
Dr. Sheila Corley, whose voice coaching has been instrumental to the rebirth of choral music at the University, received the Music Faculty of the Year award. One of her best students, soprano Christina Cullers, received Musician of the Year.
Cullers, alto Lauren Bailey and pianist Julianne Forte are the program’s seniors, and all three performed solos. Forte was last year’s Musician of the Year. Cullers has been selected for summer young artists’ programs in southern California and Germany.
“She has been very diligent and really applied herself,” Assistant Dean Juan Hernandez said of Cullers.
GCU’s New Life Singers (directed by Gabe Salazar), its 22-member Canyon Singers (directed by Corley) and its 60-member Canyon Chorale (directed by Hernandez) each performed three or four songs from a busy 2011-12 year that involved a total of 110 performances. The familiar “Seasons of Love” (from “Rent”) and “The Circle of Life” (from “The Lion King”) were crowd-pleasers from the Chorale near the end.
After the concert was over, the laughs began at Ethington Theatre.
Chuck Norris saved the whales. The Terminator and the Kool-Aid man appeared on a TV dating game. And Barney the purple dinosaur was arrested.
The eight student actors who played improvisational comedy games for an audience of around 100 people shape-shifted into everything from Oprah Winfrey to the performers from a mock romantic comedy movie titled “Two Men and a Giraffe.”
Judging from the raucous laughter and eager audience participation, improv comedy has a future on campus.
The troupe, comprised of some of GCU’s most talented performing-arts students, titled the show “The Late Night Improv Show With Cheap Entertainment.” Members of the audience fueled the show with random suggestions, shouting ideas that the actors were forced to expand into sketches — much like the show “Whose Line Is It Anyway?”
Student performers who had organized the group and rehearsed dozens of improv games this semester said they hoped to perform multiple times next year — keeping the late-night slot in mind for the warm, underground feel that makes such shows a hit with students.
The troupe’s co-captain, Josh Vanderpoel, a freshman with extensive improv experience, said students will spend the summer trying to nail down the best sites for future shows when the Ethington stage in use for dramatic productions.
Options may include the lower level at Thunder Alley or the amphitheatre-like back patio at the Student Union.