WEST LIBERTY, W.Va., Oct. 11, 2018 – West Liberty University professor Maggie Balsley has taught at WLU for about nine years. This fall, she’s directing the opening play in the Hilltop Players 2018 – 2019 season, “The Miracle Worker” which opens on Thursday, Oct. 18 in Kelly Theatre. Times and dates for “The Miracle Worker” are 7:30 p.m., Oct. 18-20 and Oct. 25-27 and 3 p.m., Sunday Oct. 28.
WLU Media Relations intern Anthony Veltri caught up with her recently and shares below a few facts about her career and the upcoming production.
What made you get into theatre?
The movies. Since my aunt owned the only movie theatre in the town where I grew up, I was able to see all kinds of movies for free. I was especially taken with musicals and Gene Kelly in particular.
What qualities are crucial to success as a director?
Organization and management skills are as important as artistic talent.
What difficulties are there in directing a college performance?
Can you tell us about the cast? What is most interesting about them?
Five out of the cast of 12 are theatre majors. Three of those five theatre majors are freshmen.
Why should people come see “The Miracle Worker”? What can they expect?
The Miracle Worker is a very well written play telling a true and fascinating story of Helen Keller. She lost her hearing and sight as a baby and achieved a seemingly insurmountable goal of learning how to communicate with the dedicated efforts of Annie Sullivan, her teacher. (
“The Miracle Worker” first premiered in 1959 as an adaptation of The Story of My Life, an autobiography by Helen Keller. The play, director, and actresses were nominated for multiple Academy Awards including Best Adaptive Screenplay, Best Director, Best Actress, and Best Supporting Actress.
It was immortalized onstage and screen by Anne Bancroft and Patty Duke, playing Annie Sullivan and her student, blind and mute Helen Keller. With scenes of intense physical and emotional dynamism, Annie’s success with Helen finally comes with the utterance of a single, glorious word: “water.”
The drama was written by William Gibson and is set in the American South in the 1880s.
An award-winning graduate of the American Academy of Dramatic Arts (AADA), Balsley formerly taught speech and voice for the actor and directed for the AADA program and at Brandeis University.
She was the founder and director of Café Espresso, a small acting troupe in New York City. Other New York directing credits include Circle Repertory Theatre and the Gallery Players.
Locally, she has directed full productions and staged readings at Off The Wall Theatre, Terra Nova, and Bricolage, all in Pittsburgh.
Tickets for all Hilltop Players productions will be available through Brown Paper Tickets online and on sale 30 days prior to the opening of each production. For more information, please call or email [email protected]
The Miracle Worker cast and stage crew
- Anthony Hood, Stage Manager
- Sydney Walker, Prop Master
- Jacob Schiefelbin, Sound Designer/Operation
- Josie Jarrett, Aunt Ev/Assistant Stage Manager
- Brody Eggert, Doctor/Anagnos
- Evan Morgan, Captain Keller
- Molly Stanley, Mrs. Keller
- MaKenna Berka, Helen Keller
- Grant VanCamp, James
- Odessa Hores, Annie Sullivan
- Alex Street, Perkins Girl
- Kaitlyn Johnston, Perkins Girl
- Olivia Thompson, Perkins Girl
- Jada Midget, Viney
- Harmonie Jackson, Martha
- Peter Mugabo, Percy