WEST LIBERTY, W.Va., Feb. 9, 2017 — The Hilltop Players have been rehearsing a new comedy that is sure to delight as they prepare for opening night of the contemporary play, Hope and Gravity.
According to playwright Michael Hollinger, the comedy is a non-linear story about fate and nine characters whose lives connect in surprising ways as an elevator crashes in a major city. It originally premiered at Pittsburgh’s City Theater in 2014.
An award-winning playwright whose work appeared on stages across the U.S. and the world, Hollinger also is an associate professor of Theater at Villanova University, Pa.
“This play is a wonderful mixture of characters, plot twists, comedy and ultimate serious stuff about life and death,” said Director Maggie Balsley, who also is an adjunct professor of theatre at WLU. “The audience will have to work for this one. They will encounter twists and stories told out of sequence that which lead to a startling, surprising and shocking conclusion.”
“By turns both comic and profound, Hope and Gravity traces the barely perceivable threads that connect us all,” Hollinger said.
The Dallas/Fort Worth Star-Telegram described the play as, “Brilliantly structured and hilariously written. The structure of this artfully non-linear script places these seemingly unrelated people in various situations, usually in pairs. Although they come from different directions and head for different goals, their lives intersect in surprising ways.”
The cast includes students: Carly Balog, Alex Burdick, Anthony Hood, Sarah Lemley, Amanda Mandirola, Zac Morris, Sydney Nicholson, Chris Rees, Jed Shook, Grant Van Camp, Destiny Walsh and Ingrid Young.
“Working on this play has really opened my eyes into the world of being an actor. I have a tech focus in the theater program, so this is the first production where I’ve had a larger role. This has caused me to work harder,” said Rees who plays the part of Peter in the production.
“In order to really grasp the reality of your character you have to imagine yourself as another person from the script and your interpretation. It’s been interesting to put my mind in the head of someone else. The part is developing me to be a better stage manager. While I am an actor in the show, in order to be a good stage manager you have to understand actors and what they go through during a production,” he said.
“Working on this play has been fun. Hard work of course — and it took a lot of work to get to where I wanted to be. But I love that the play connects everyone in a way, and there are little things that make you smile,” said Young, who plays Tanya.
Student design and crew members contributing their talents to the play include, stage manager Callie Carroll, assistant stage manager Amanda Tamplin, music composition and sound designer Brady Dunn and props director Kobe Wade.