WEST LIBERTY, W.Va., Jan. 12, 2018 — Wheeling resident Michael Blatzer, a 2016 graduate of West Liberty University, is living his dream in New York City as one of the costumers for the new play, Party Face, starring Academy Award, Golden Globe and BAFTA Award-winning actress Hayley Mills (Pollyanna, The Parent Trap, etc.).
“It’s mind blowing, I just turned 24 and I’m making an off-Broadway debut. It’s a little surreal,” said Blatzer, who is from Martinsburg, W.Va. and earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Theater.
Described as a party that’s full of surprises, the Party Face plot centers around careful plans that are upended when a young woman’s mother Carmel (played by Mills) brings her own food to her daughter’s party—and also the ‘right’ person to be her daughter’s new best friend. They put on their “party faces” and hope for the best, but when facades crack, secrets spill. Tears sprinkle and laughter roars as their revelry leads to revelations.
“I saw the designer run-through and it’s hysterical,” Blatzer said. He arrived in NYC on Dec. 17 and has been working hard to get the contemporary, two-act play ready for opening night.
Costumes include five cast members and one understudy who is on standby for each of the cast members and therefore needs her own costumes for each character.
But at least there are no costume changes because it takes place all within an evening, according to Blatzer.
Since the style of dress is contemporary, Blatzer bought and altered all of the costumes for this play, rather than creating them from scratch. He spent lots of time shopping and sewing.
As far as Hayley Mills goes, his opinion of the star is just what her fans would expect, “I talked with Hayley Mills a couple of times and she’s a sweetheart.”
Blatzer first got into costuming under the instruction of Meta Lasch, longtime theatre professor who teaches a variety of courses including costuming, makeup, lighting, drafting and stagecraft.
“I got into costuming as soon as I got to WLU. When I toured as a prospective student I came in as biology and theatre double major but I fell in love with the theatre department. Things fell into place, I left biology and went completely into theatre. Then West Liberty’s Hilltop Players went to the Kennedy Center Festival and I took a costume design class there. Meta gave me a few projects and I became more and more convinced that this was my future,” he explained.
Blatzer worked on the Hilltop Players productions for four years while earning his degree.
According to Lasch, he was one of her best-ever students. She describes him as highly motivated and determined.
“I couldn’t be more proud of Michael,” she said. “Michael showed that he had something beyond the talent and passion for his craft when he was a summer intern with the Millbrooke Playhouse after his sophomore year. He was one of several interns hired to be stitchers for the summer slate of shows. Before the summer was halfway over he was selected to design costumes for the final production. That led to being contracted to design two shows the following summer and thus it began. He was on his way to the career that he so wanted. His diligence and determination made the difference.”
“It says a lot about West Liberty University that I’m out just two years, from a small school in West Virginia, and I’m here. If it wasn’t for the education I received there, I wouldn’t have gotten this chance,” he said.
Blatzer also has worked at the Judson Theatre Company in Pinehurst, NC, where he plans to return.
Right now though he’s employed on this off-Broadway production until opening night, Monday, Jan. 22 and on Jan. 23 he expects to return to Wheeling. Reports are that the play received a standing ovation on its first preview night so it’s definitely off to a good start.
Written by the Irish playwright Isobel Mahon, Party Face comes to City Center theatre direct from Ireland and begins performances on Thursday, Jan. 11, 2018 at City Center Stage 2 (131 West 55th Street) for a run through April 8, 2018. Tickets are available now at www.nycitycenter.org.
For more images of the production, visit Party Face Facebook page found here.