COFAP crew to represent GCU at prestigious Kennedy Center festival

February 10, 2016 / by / 1 Comment

Story by Janie Magruder
Photos by Darryl Webb
GCU News Bureau

Students from the cast of "Scapin," performed in November in Ethington Theatre, are competing in The Kennedy Center regional festival in Hawaii this week.

Students from the cast of “Scapin,” performed in October in Ethington Theatre, are competing in the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival’s regional competition this week in Hawaii.

If you’ve ever watched a play in Ethington Theatre by student actors in Grand Canyon University’s College of Fine Arts and Production you have a.) laughed yourself silly, b.) cried out all your tears, or c.) wondered how they built and lit such a grand stage, stitched such beautiful costumes and fashioned such dramatic hair and makeup.

Yes, all of the above.

This week some of those skills will be on display at the prestigious Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival’s regional competition, to which seven COFAP students and one faculty member have been invited to represent GCU. The finest theatre talent from colleges and universities in Arizona, central and Southern California, Hawaii, southern Nevada and Utah will be showcased, including’s students from GCU’s “Scapin,” presented in Ethington last October. (Click here to read an article and here to see photos of “Scapin.”)

The festival is Thursday through Sunday at the University of Hawaii at Manoa and Chaminade University of Honolulu. It will include a wide range of activities, workshops, symposia and scholarship and award programs for faculty and students to benefit from and enjoy.

Michael Kary

Michael Kary

This is GCU’s first invitation in modern COFAP history, noted instructor and alumnus Michael Kary, who directed “Scapin.” It’s a big deal.

“This goes to show the level of professionalism and the caliber of talent we have,” said Kary, who will be teaching a course on Empathy and Character at the festival. “We are very proud of the work our students do in every show, and the students are excited for the opportunity. This is also a great way for our school’s name to get out onto a national stage and to connect with other universities’ faculty and students.”

In addition to Kary, these students (and in parenthesis behind their names, the areas they are competing in) are attending: Kayana Sweeney and Ryan Usher (actors), Devaune Bohall and Trevor Penzone (scene partners for Sweeney and Usher, who also will be evaluated on their performances), Andrew Weedman (stage management), Klay Wandelear (light design) and Johnni Medina (dramaturgy, the study of dramatic composition and the representation of the main elements of drama on the stage).

Ryan Usher and Kayana Sweeney are among students representing GCU at the Kennedy regionals.

Ryan Usher and Kayana Sweeney are among students representing GCU at the Kennedy regionals.

There are eight geographic regions and regional festivals in the U.S. in January and February, and 125 outstanding theatre students will be chosen to attend the 48th annual National Festival April 11-16 at the John F. Kennedy Center of the Performing Arts.

According to the Center, the festival’s goal is to encourage, recognize and celebrate the finest and most diverse work produced in university and college theater programs; to provide opportunities for participants to develop their theatre skills and insight and achieve professionalism; to improve the quality of college and university theatre in America; and to encourage colleges and universities to give distinguished productions of new plays, especially those written by students, the classics, revitalized or newly conceived, and experimental works.

Claude Pensis, COFAP’s dean, said the GCU crew will shine at the regional session because of its open nature and artistic expression.

“Getting to the regional festival shows talent and it shows training,” Pensis said. “GCU went Division I with sports, and when it did that, we said we’re going to do D-I with our theatre, and that means we are going to touch the ball as much as possible. Part of that mission means stepping out on the national platform and see how we stand up.”

Contact Janie Magruder at (602) 639-8018 or [email protected]

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One Response
  1. Kathy Laneri

    We are so proud of you all our Ethington Family…the world is just starting to get to see what we all already know here at GCU…the best kept secret in Phoenix, Arizona… a phenomenal group of performers and artists both in front and behind the stage whose amazing talents keep shining brighter and brighter!!! And we are so fortunate to have and have had a “front row seat”. Our love and blessings go out to you all. The Laneri Family

    Feb.13.2016 at 10:54 am
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