College of Fine Arts and Production Events and News

If you are hoping to have the time of your life, start with Grand Canyon University's (GCU) College of Fine Arts and Productions events. Whether viewing a live theatre production in Ethington Theatre or a digital film screening from our talented students, enjoy an experience you will not soon forget. Stay tuned in to news and current events from around campus.

Ethington Theatre

Ethington Theatre is at the heart of unforgettable experiences at GCU. Our highly acclaimed production outlet brings classics and modern performances to life in an intimate atmosphere, connecting performers with their audience. With only 311 seats, this intimate theatre connects the audience with the performers.


Student Matinee Series

In an effort to make the arts and arts education accessible to Arizona's youth, GCU's Ethington Theatre invites educators and students to enjoy the Student Matinee Series. The cost is free for high school students, staff and chaperones to attend. A tour of campus and lunch is provided.


Arts and Production Accolades

The College of Fine Arts and Production at GCU has a rich tradition in education and the arts. Alongside an accomplished faculty, our most talented students and graduates have been recognized for their achievements in theatre, production, musical performance and so much more. We are proud to showcase the accolades of our faculty, students and alumni, as this reflects heavily on the standing of the college.

Student and Alumni Highlights

Provided is a list of the most recent accomplishments as our students represent GCU in their respective disciplines.

COFAP students shone at the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival with three students reaching the semifinals and two students claiming second place in their regional categories. Tu “J” Nguyen’s “Peter and the Starcatcher” property design won her second place in the region. Rachel Schumacher’s “Peter and the Starcatcher” lighting design placed second in the region, winning her a scholarship to the Stagecraft Institute. Mandy Tompkins also reached the semifinals for her stage management of “Ring Round the Moon.” Other students recognized include Brandon Brown, Christian Bradford and Kaitlyn Johnson.

The National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences presented Juan Juarez with an Emmy. Juan is a Dreamer success story and graduated from GCU with a double major in digital film with an emphasis in production and communication. He is currently a television journalist for Univision in Nevada.

GCU's performance of Steven Dietz's "Sherlock Holmes: The Final Adventure," received high praise in Phoenix. Gil Benbrook of called the performance "top-notch," praising the direction of College of Fine Arts and Production Dean Claude Pensis and the creative elements of scenic designer William Symington. Benbrook also offered high marks for the Sherlock cast, which was led by Aaron Potter and Dylan Kim.

For the first time, two GCU students, Samantha Erdmann and Christopher Cline, joined Sony at the 2014 National Association of Broadcasters conference to work alongside its marketing, sales and engineering personnel on the show floor. This unique opportunity offered real world experience, training on the latest Sony gear and live demos. Only 60 students from across the country were selected to participate.

Josh Vanderpoel, a senior who has captained the Cantalopes comedy troupe and played a number of prominent roles in Ethington Theatre productions, had the opportunity to take classes during the summer of 2014 at Chicago's Second City, the theatre company that has launched the careers of many cast members of "Saturday Night Live" over the years.

Communications and digital film senior, Juan Juarez, interned for NBC News in New York through the National Association of Hispanic Journalists during the summer of 2014. His article, "Inside La Gran Familia Group Home - Mexico's 'House of Horrors,'" recently ran on NBC's Latino news site. The article details accusations of rampant abuse and neglect of children. Juarez also interned with CNN and Phoenix-area media outlets.

The ASGCU vote resulted in the election of sophomores Cody Dumas, a digital film major, and Matt Friesen, a business management major, as president and vice president of the student body for the 2014-15 academic year. Dumas and Friesen received 63 percent of the votes. Dumas and vice president-elect sophomore, Slate Herman, will lead the student government in the 2015-16 school year.

During summer 2014, nearly 40 local designers, including several GCU students, met to have their portfolios reviewed in a first-of-its-kind event on campus. Under the direction of Sheila Schumacher, GCU's growing graphic design program had nearly 200 students in the fall of 2014.

The story of GCU senior, Jesse Villegas, was featured by KPHO-TV anchor Catherine Anaya on an evening newscast. Villegas lives among refugees at the Serrano Village Apartments just east of campus and turned down scholarship money to do so. The channel 5 story incorporated footage shot by digital film student Katrina Palmisano and was produced by GCU communications staff member Michael Ferraresi.

Hollywood producer Ken Kokin, visited GCU to speak to students in the digital film program. His advice to students was that successful films require solid characters that audiences can believe in. Kokin co-produced the 1995 film, "The Usual Suspects," an Academy Award-winning screenplay with Best Supporting Actor (Kevin Spacey).

The College of Fine Arts and Production received high praise in a review from Gil Benbrook of In his review, Benbrook pointed out the "excellent dialogue work" and "stunning costumes and hair and make-up designs (by Nola Yergen and Madison Kesterson, respectively)," adding that William Symington's set design is "one of the best of his I've seen." He also commended director Michael Kary and lead performers Christine Ward and Logan Barrett.

Faculty Highlights

Over the years, our faculty members have received a number of awards and recognition for their accomplishments in the arts. Listed are faculty highlights.

Rachel Velarde, adjunct voice and diction instructor, was awarded an honorable mention for the Van L. Lawrence Voice Foundation and National Association for Teachers of Singing fellowship in vocal pedagogy. Velarde will attend an annual symposium in Philadelphia.





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