WEST LIBERTY, W.Va., Jan. 12, 2023 — West Liberty University’s Hilltop Players learned recently that its production of “Peter and the Starcatcher” was selected to perform at the Region Two Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival to be held Jan. 17-21 at West Chester University in Pennsylvania.
At 7:30 p.m., Saturday, Jan. 14, 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, however donations will be accepted to help fund the trip to the festival.
“Getting invited in the regional festival is a real honor and tribute to our students and the WLU theatre program,” said Cecilia Konchar Farr, dean of the College of Liberal and Creative Arts.
“What is maybe more impressive is that we are, I believe, the only play selected that is student designed and produced. It showcases the artistic level that our students can achieve as we have students serving as musical director, lighting and sound designers, dance and fight choreographers, hair and makeup designers, and many other leadership positions.
“The students have done a fantastic job,” said Associate Professor of Theatre Michael Aulick.
The cast leaves Tuesday, Jan. 17, for the festival and will perform at 2 p.m., Saturday, Jan. 21 in the Emilie K. Asplundh Concert Hall.
The country has eight regions for the college theater competition. Each nominated play was vetted by two independent selectors 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 as the director for the production and university technical director Meta Lasch oversaw and mentored the design students work. The play was originally staged at Kelly Theatre in November and early December.
The play, written by Rick Elite, with music by Wayne Barker, upends the century-old story of how a miserable orphan comes to be The Boy Who Would Not Grow Up (a.k.a. Peter Pan). A young orphan and his mates are shipped off from Victorian England to a distant island ruled by the evil King Zarboff. They know nothing of the mysterious trunk in the captain’s cabin, which contains a precious, otherworldly cargo. At sea, the boys are discovered by a precocious young girl named Molly, a Starcatcher-in-training who realizes that the trunk’s precious cargo is starstuff, a celestial substance so powerful that it must never fall into the wrong hands. When the ship is taken over by pirates – led by the fearsome Black Stache, a villain determined to claim the trunk and its treasure for his own – the journey quickly becomes a thrilling adventure.
Students performing in the show are seniors Daniel White, Odessa Hores, Calian Byard, Julia Fields, Merritt Craft, Fiona Ruston, Shannon Shifflett, Greyson Grimmett, Teirron Griffith, Roman Hicks, Isabella Costantini, Georgia Richardson, Benjamin Mounsey, Len Batson, Joel Nau, Daisy Deaton, and Bennett Cassata
Also taking part in the production are: stage manager, freshman Jordan Derring and sound designer Kris Marosz.
“I am super proud of this cast and crew. They have really worked hard to develop this play into something that measures up to the standard for an invitation to the festival. We have had a few pick-up rehearsals and everyone is ready to go. I look forward to showing the region what West Liberty University Theatre can do,” Aulick said.
Reservations for the Jan. 14 benefit performance are recommended and may be made at brownpapertickets.com.