Ethington season will be big on history and ‘Peanuts’

May 23, 2017 / by / 0 Comment

Claude Pensis, dean of the College of Fine Arts and Production, calls the 2017-18 season “clever and witty.”

By Laurie Merrill
GCU News Bureau

From 17th-century France to the “Peanuts” cartoon set to music, Grand Canyon University’s 2017-18 Ethington Theatre season will cross the globe and blend styles.

The College of Fine Arts and Production will feature five timeless tales, including two beloved musicals, and the settings include Russia, England and an ocean liner.

“The season will touch on many of the main historical theatrical genres,” said Claude Pensis, the COFAP dean.

It also promises to amuse and delight with cunning turns of phrase and bright writing.

“Clever and witty is a good name for the season,” Pensis said.

Two ballets — the winter and spring dance concerts — round out Ethington Theatre’s traditional seven-show season.

The first production, “The Good Doctor,” opens Sept. 1. Written in 1973 by Neil Simon, a prolific and popular Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award-winning writer, it’s Simon’s ode to Anton Chekhov, an esteemed Russian short-story author and physician born in the previous century.

“Neil Simon brought Chekhov’s stories into the 20th century and made them his own,’’ Pensis said, adding that Simon transformed them with his light style.  “It’s going to be really delightful evening.”

This year’s COFAP schedule omits a play by William Shakespeare and instead presents “Tartuffe,” written by French-born Moliere, “a great observer of life,” Pensis said.

Written in 1664 and scheduled to open Oct. 13, it’s a comedy of character and of situation, Pensis said.

“We flip into another vein of the classical canon, and it is a rich mine,” Pensis said, referring to works considered representative of a certain period.

The show features the head of an aristocratic household who believes his family has become too worldly. To turn things around, he brings in Tartuffe, a man he believes to be pious.

In actuality, Tartuffe turns out to be “a wolf in lamb’s clothing, but the head of the household refuses to see the truth,” Pensis said. “And Tartuffe tries to get rid of all those who learn the truth.”

Twists and turns abound and leave the audience in suspense until the final scene.

“You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown” is a family friendly, uplifting musical that opens Nov. 17 just in time for the holidays, Pensis said.

It’s a series of Charles Schultz’s 1960s classic comic strips brought to life on the stage. Fans of Peanuts cartoons will see all their favorite characters – Charlie Brown, Lucy, Linus and the like.

“Major Barbara,” a three-act play written by George Bernard Shaw and first produced in 1905, opens Feb. 9.

It’s another “clever, witty” story, Pensis said, about an idealistic officer of The Salvation Army and her reaction to a donation from a wealthy industrialist who happens to be her father.  

“It’s a story where industrialization and salvation can come together,” Pensis said.

“Anything Goes,” the fifth theatrical production and second musical, is a love story and comedy of errors set on an ocean liner. It opens March 16.

It’s also a show that follows classical principles of unity of time, place and action, Pensis said, meaning it takes place in real time. Written in 1934, it features songs by Cole Porter, including “I Get a Kick out of You,” “Let’s Misbehave” and “Anything Goes.”

“The Arc Between: Winter Dance Concert” opens Dec. 9, and “The Tipping Point: Spring Dance Concert” opens April 13.

“I’m really excited about the season,” Pensis said.

The two most recent Ethington Theatre productions, “West Side Story” and “Ballet to Broadway: The Spring Dance Concert,” sold out, so theater and dance fans should be sure to secure their tickets early. They will be be available soon. Students get tickets free with ID.

More information

Tickets: Ethington Theatre box office, 602-639-8880 or


The Good Doctor, 7:30 p.m. Sept. 1-2 and Sept. 8-9,  2 p.m. Sept. 3 and Sept. 10 

Tartuffe, 7:30 p.m. Oct. 13-14 and Oct. 20-21, 2 p.m. Oct. 15 and Oct. 22

You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown, 7:30 p.m. Nov. 17-18 and Nov. 24-25, 2 p.m. Nov. 19 and Nov. 26

The Arc Between: Winter Dance Concert, 7:30 p.m. Dec. 8-9

Major Barbara, 7:30 p.m. Feb. 9-10 and Feb. 16-17, 2 p.m. Feb. 11 and Feb. 18. 

Anything Goes, 7:30 p.m. March 16-17 and March 23-24, 2  p.m. March 18 and March 25

The Tipping Point: Spring Dance Concert, 7:30 p.m. April 13-14

Contact Laurie Merrill at (602) 639-6511 or

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