Student-Directed production showcases WLU Program

This weekend, February 20-23, the students of West Liberty University’s Theatre program perform John Cariani’s hit play “Almost, Maine.”  This production is a real triumph for the WLU Theatre program as it is a demonstration of what the students have learned.  While Meta Lasch has been instrumental in pulling together a few of the design elements, much of the work involved in producing this play has been entirely the work of the students.  Two of the students, Maura Reiff and Jaccob Trifonoff (both juniors), auditioned, cast, and directed the performances of eight of their colleagues.  Spencer Thomas (Decmeber 2013 graduate) has designed the lights, that include projections in the lighting design.  Michael Blatzer (sophomore) has overseen the costume design and build.  Carlito Gilchrist (sophomore) was responsible for the sound design for the production.  Many others have worked on crews, as stage managers, and or designed and built facets of this show. “It is one of the best feelings a professor of theatre can have when he/she sees that their students have been paying attention and can actually do what they have been learning,” said Michael Aulick, Associate Professor of Theatre.  “It’s like we take the training wheels off and let go of the bike to see if they can really do it.” Almost Maine performs February 20-22 at 7:30pm and February 23 at 3:00pm.  Tickets can be purchased ahead of time (at discounted rate) by clicking this link.  Reservations can be made by calling 304.336.8277.   ...

“Almost, Maine” to be produced by the WLU Theatre students

Two student-directors, Maura Reiff and Jaccob Trifonoff, step up to the challenge of directing a main stage show for the WLU Hilltop Players.  After a semester of a course in directing, the two applied to be allowed to direct a show on our main stage. The student-directed slot allows the WLU Theatre program to continue to give educational opportunities to our students in fun, creative, and challenging ways. The show is a collection of scenes so was a good choice for student directors with Reiff directing the first act and Trifonoff directing the second.  While the acts can stand alone, the directors had to collaborate on concept and design elements. “Though the two acts are directed separately, they had to collaborate ideas to make the play fit both of their visions,” Aulick said. “One of the most rewarding parts of this job is seeing 18-year-olds blossom into budding young artists who have a voice in the world of theatre. These two have grown so much in the last year that it is almost like they are different people. I am terribly proud of them as people and as student-directors,” he said. Aulick was assisted in his work with the student-directors by Technical Director of Theatre Meta Lasch. Cast members include Chad Arthur, Kacie Craig, Maggie Dillon, Brady Dunn, Alex Franke, Alexandria Glotfelty, Anna Gross and Mack Kale. “Our cast and crew have put their whole heart into every inch of this production,” said Reiff, who has set her sites on theater as a profession. “We encourage everyone to come out and enjoy a love story with very realistic characters....

Tony Award Winning Play “Spring Awakening” comes to the Hill!!!

SPRING AWAKENING   By Steven Sater and Duncan Sheik Winner of 8 Tony Awards® Including BEST MUSICAL MAKES ITS NORTHERN PANHANDLE PREMIERE  NOVEMBER 20-21 AND 23-24, 2013 TICKETS ARE ON SALE NOW! “An unexpected jolt of sudden genius!” -Clive Barnes, New York Post SPRING AWAKENING, one of Broadway’s most popular new musical and the biggest Tony Award®-winner in years, is coming to this region. SPRING AWAKENING, the 8-time Tony Award® winning Broadway musical, will play the Kelly Theatre November 20-21 and 23-24, 2013 (there is no performance on November 22 due to the Wheeling Christmas Parade) as part of the WLU Hilltop Player’s 2013-2014 season. Tickets are on sale now and may be purchased at the WLU Ticket Office (limited hours) or online at htpawakening.brownpapertickets.com.  Reservations can be made by calling 1-304-336-8277. SPRING AWAKENING swept the 2007 Tony Awards® winning eight out of its eleven nominations, including Best Musical, Best Director (Michael Mayer), Best Book (Steven Sater), Best Choreography (Bill T. Jones), Best Orchestrations (Duncan Sheik), Best Lighting Design (Kevin Adams), Best Featured Actor (John Gallagher Jr.). Based on the infamous 1891 Frank Wedekind play, SPRING AWAKENING features an electrifying score by Duncan Sheik, book and lyrics Steven Sater, direction by Michael Mayer and choreography by the award-winning Bill T. Jones. Set against the backdrop of a repressive and provincial late 19th century Germany, SPRING AWAKENING tells the timeless story of teenage self-discovery and budding sexuality as seen through the eyes of three teenagers. Haunting and provocative, SPRING AWAKENING celebrates an unforgettable journey from youth to adulthood with a power, a poignancy and a passion you will never forget....

John Hennen returns to anchor cast of “Proof.”

John Hennen, adjunct Professor of Theatre returns to our stage to disprove the old adage, “those who can’t, teach.”  John, who was most recently on our stage as Ebenezer Scrooge in Dickens’ A Christmas Carol in 2011, has had a long an celebrated career in theatre.  The Hilltop Player’s are lucky to have him agree to join the small, but talented cast of students to bring David Auburn’s award winning play, Proof, to our audience.  The cast, joining John, includes Maggie P. Dillon as Catherine, Doug Gouldsberry as Hal, and Caitlyn Reasbeck as Claire and is being lead by Maggie Balsley, adjunct Professor of Theatre.   Please do not miss a chance to see John Hennen, one of the treasures of the West Liberty University Theatre program, in this fantastic play.  ...

Guest Director, Maggie Balsley, Brings Parody to the Hilltop

West Liberty students will direct and stage a contemporary play, Dog Sees God: Confessions of a Teenage Blockhead, by Bert V. Royal, at 7:30 p.m., Feb. 21-23 and 3 p.m., Feb. 24. Adjunct professor Maggie Balsley is the guest director for the production. Balsley, a resident of Washington, Pa., is active in the Pittsburgh arts community and its “Off the Wall” theater. “This play is a parody that imagines characters from the popular comic strip Peanuts as teenagers. It is more than a story of teenage angst. It uses familiar characters in another context and places them in the harrowing position of today’s minefield of horrors. The play uses humor and even a touch of violence but ends with the thought that we shouldn’t despair. That in spite of all appearances it’s best to welcome life rather than cower and hide from it,” Balsley said. The play begins with the character CB’s dog dying from rabies. CB begins to question the existence of an afterlife. His best friend Van is too burnt out to provide any coherent speculation; his sister has gone Goth; his ex-girlfriend, Marcy, was institutionalized; and his other friends are too inebriated to give him any sort of solace. But a chance meeting with an artistic kid, Beethovan, the target of this group’s bullying, offers CB a peace of mind and sets in motion a friendship that will push teen angst to the very limits. Drug use, suicide, eating disorders, teen violence, rebellion and sexual identity collide and careen toward an ending that’s both haunting and hopeful. “This play has proven one of the most popular of our...

The Trumpet reviews of “The Cripple of Inishmaan”

[article originally in The Trumpet] By Hannah Courtney, Staff Writer The West Liberty University Hilltop Players kicked off their fall season with a sensational, eerie performance of Arthur Miller’s “The Crucible”; an act that was truly a tough one to follow. However, they’ve pulled it off, going out with a clamoring, comical and emotion-inducing bang in their rendition of Martin McDonagh’s “The Cripple of Inishmaan.” The play is set in 1934 and takes place off the Western Coast of Ireland on an island known as Inishmaan. We follow the story of “Cripple” Billy Claven, given a name that speaks for itself as he has a disfigured arm and leg. Billy lives in a community that makes himself, and his condition, the butt of its ongoing joke, thus causing him to feel  like he belongs somewhere else. Billy’s ears perk up at JohnnyPateenMike’s first set of exciting news in twenty years: Auditions are being held for a movie to be filmed on Inishmore, a neighboring island. Viewers watch as Billy pursues acting, love, and understanding of what his parents were like prior to their death as well as searching for the real reason behind their death. If audience members found themselves walking away from the Hilltop Player’s previous performance of “The Crucible”             with a bit of a solemn feeling in their hearts, “The Cripple of Inishmaan” is the comic relief they’ve been yearning for. This play was nothing short of comical genius. The jokes are deprecating, sarcastic, condescending, morbid, perverted, or in short: something like an episode of Family Guy laced with Irish tradition and dialect. And, let’s face it, this is...