Shakespeare comedy will get a touch of magic
By Laurie Merrill
GCU News Bureau
When the curtain rises on Ethington Theatre’s “Two Gentlemen of Verona’’ next weekend, two characters will engage in a duel, waiting for the right moment to flick their wands.
If this sounds more like a contemporary fantasy than William Shakespeare’s comedy, that’s because director Scott Campbell of Grand Canyon University is trying something new in the College of Fine Arts and Production‘s first major play in 2017.
“We are setting it in a wizarding world,” Campbell said of the play, which opens at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Feb. 10, and runs for six performances.
Campbell flicks his own wand to transform one of Shakespeare’s earliest plays into something more accessible, more fascinating — and, well, more fun.
Fans of Shakespeare will be reunited with Valentine and Proteus, the main characters who hail from Verona and form the basis of what is essentially a circa 1594 buddy comedy.
But under Campbell’s spell, the character of the Duke of Milan is transformed into the minister of magic, and the servants become non-human creatures, like elves. Many, Campbell said, carry their own individualized wands.
Magic is central to the play, which explores themes such as friendship, jealousy, infidelity and the extreme behavior of those in the thralls of immature love.
“The play revolves around the magic of love and how it can be both a wonderful, butterfly-filled feeling or it can lead you to dark, obsessive behaviors,” Campbell said. “Two other critical themes in the show are the power of friendship and forgiveness.”
Campbell has logged two decades in GCU’s theater program, earning his bachelor’s degree in theater here in 1998 and participating in about 20 productions.
Directing plays is a cherished pastime but not Campbell’s main role. He is GCU’s director of state compliance and accreditation, a position enriched by his theater background.
Ethington Theatre buffs may recall Campbell’s directing talents in “Die Fledermaus” and “A Child’s Christmas in Wales” and his recent acting prowess in 2016’s “All My Sons.”
With The Two Gentlemen of Verona, Campbell has an opportunity to spread his passion for Shakespeare by translating it for an American contemporary audience.
First week: 7:30 p.m. Friday, Feb. 10, 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 11, 2 p.m. Sunday Feb. 12
Second week: 7:30 p.m. Friday, Feb. 17, 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 18, 2 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 12
Tickets are available here. Students get tickets free with ID.
Valentine: Ben Tietz
Proteus: Trevor Penzone
Sylvia: Amber Warner
Julia: Sarah Schalick
Duke/Dame: Kayana Sweeney
Lucetta: Devaune Bohall
Antonio: Cameron Cluff
Thurio: Jeremy Carr
Eglamour: Logan Barrett
Speed: Bri Ha-Nguyen
Launce: Tarnim Bybee
Panthino: Armani Randolph
Host: Becca Mae Owen
Outlaws, Servants, Musicians, etc: Brittany Ha-Nguyen, Gavin Harris, Jessalyn Johnson and Rachel Schumacher
Contact Laurie Merrill at (602) 639-6511 or [email protected]