West Liberty University’s Hilltop Players learned recently that its production of “The Secret in the Wings” was picked for competition at the Region Two Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival to be held Jan. 15- 20 at Montclair State University in New Jersey.
At 7:30 p.m., Thursday, Jan. 10, the cast and crew will have a final run-through of the award-winning play in Kelly Theatre. It is free and open to the public though donations will be accepted to help fund the trip to New Jersey.
“Getting invited to the regional festival a real honor and tribute to our students and the WLU theater program,” said Dr. Matthew D. Harder, dean of the College of Arts and Communication.
“What is maybe more impressive is that we are, I believe, the only play selected that was student directed and produced. It showcases the artistic level that our students can achieve. Under the leadership of Callie Carroll, the students created a beautiful production. Our students did a fantastic job,” said associate professor of theater Michael Aulick. The cast leaves next Tuesday for the competition.
The country has eight regions for the college theater competition. Each nominated play was vetted by two independent judges from other schools to gain this honor.
“Five regional productions from our area, which includes New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Ohio and West Virginia, along with parts of Virginia were deemed to ‘represent the best college productions in the region’ and selected to perform at the festival. Five is less than last year and puts us in even more rarified company,” Aulick said.
Aulick served only as a mentor to the director for the production, and WLU technical director Meta Lasch was only an advisor on the design elements. The play was originally staged at Kelly Theatre, Nov. 29-30 and Dec. 6-9.
“Most of the decisions and execution was done by the students at WLU, including staging, lighting, sets and movement. It’s important to note that this show was not accepted as one of the best ‘student-directed’ shows’; it had to compete with shows directed and designed by faculty members of universities all over the region,” he explained.
The play has five different fairytales, each unique and visually interesting and was written by Mary Zimmerman. The action concerns a child and a frightening babysitter (an ogre). As the babysitter reads from a book of fairy tales, the characters materialize, and each tale breaks off just at its bleakest moment before giving way to the next.
Other students acting in the competition include: seniors Alexandra Burdick and Amanda Tamplen, juniors Ben Moore, Jalen McCrary and Daniel White; sophomores Autumn Carver, Lexy Glover and Hayden Heiserman; freshmen Delaney Bird and Shannon Shiflett. Understudies are junior Grant Vancamp and freshman David Gaudio. The play is directed by senior theater major, Callie Carroll who used this work as her senior capstone project.
Also taking part in the production are: stage manager, junior Hunter Helms; assistant stage manager, freshman David Gaudio; music director, senior Amanda Tamplen; set designer, senior Christopher Rees; lighting designer, graduate student Alex Franke; costume designer, sophomore Autumn Carver; props master, senior Alex Burdick; and sound technicians, Austin Lee, Mason West and Kody Liller.
“I was super proud of the cast and crew when we got back from Christmas break and can’t wait for the competition. Everyone is ready to go. I look forward to the best and brightest of our region seeing the show,” said Carroll.