Major achievement for cast and crew of “Poe: Master of the Macabre.”

WEST LIBERTY, W.Va., May 16, 2017 — West Liberty University’s theatre program received top honors recently when it was nationally recognized by the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival (KCACTF), in Washington, D.C. The WLU team picked up a total of five awards including:

  • Distinguished Production of a Play
  • Distinguished Ensemble of a Play/Musical
  • Distinguished Award in Lighting Design, Alex Franke, Wheeling, fifth year senior
  • Distinguished Actor, Jedidiah Shook, Wheeling, graduating senior
  • Distinguished Directing Award, Michael Aulick, WLU associate professor of theatre

From left, (seated) Grant VanCamp, Alex Franke, Christoper Rees, Michael L. Aulick, Brady Dunn, Jedediah Shook and Kobe Wade, (standing) Alexanrda Burdick, Jessica Roth, Richard Deenis, Meta Lasch, Callie Carroll, Alexander Gordon, Sarah Lemley, Amanda Tamplen, Carly Balog, Daniel White, Zac Morris, Ingrid Young and Maggie Storms.

“These awards are a great representation of the work we do at West Liberty. All aspects of the program were recognized for excellence,” said Aulick, who also is director of theatre at WLU.

“It takes an entire program to produce a show that receives the Distinguished Production Award and the Distinguished Director Award (a director helps shape the work of the designers and actors). The Distinguished Ensemble speaks highly of our focus on having a collaborative program, and the skill of our students. Distinguished Lighting Designer demonstrates the great teaching that our technical/design students are getting from Meta Lash and Richard Deenis. The Distinguished Actor award shows how strong the performance training our students get from our great performance faculty, including Maggie Balsley and John Hennen.”

“With all of these successes, I am also encouraged by the fact that out of the 14 performers who worked on the show, only three are graduating, and 10 are underclassmen. The future looks very bright,” he added.

The theatre department’s submission that earned the accolades was its production of “Poe: Master of the Macabre,” staged this past October at Kelly Theatre. WLU’s work was selected as distinguished out of over 400 national theatrical productions.

The Poe production, which is a new adaptation by playwright John Hardy, featured two casts – the Edgar cast and the Allan cast which gives more students an opportunity to perform, according to Aulick.

The Edgar Cast included Jedediah Shook, Callie Carroll, Brady Dunn, Carly Balog, Daniel White and Kobe Wade. The Allan Cast included Zac Morris, Alex Burdick, Alex Franke, Amanda Tamplen, Alex Gordon, Sarah Lemley and Grant VanCamp.

“Last year more than 1,300 productions were entered in the KCACTF involving more than 200,000 students nationwide. By entering this production, our theatre department shares in the KCACTF goals to recognize, reward, and celebrate the exemplary work produced in college and university theaters across the nation. Being recognized by the Kennedy Center was especially satisfying due to the choice we made to have two casts perform. We want our students to have opportunities to learn and train, and we made the decision to include 14 actors, when the script only needed seven. Even with this extra work, both casts did an excellent job,” he said.

Started in 1969 by Roger L. Stevens, the Kennedy Center’s founding chairman, the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival (KCACTF) has grown into a network of more than 700 academic institutions throughout the country.

It includes eight geographic regions in the United States. Regional activities are coordinated with funding and administrative support from the Kennedy Center. The regional administrations coordinate all aspects of the production response process on the local and regional level and supervise regional-level KCACTF award, scholarship and residency programming.

In January and February of each year, regional festivals showcase the finest productions, which then advance to this national competition held in April.

The Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival™ 49, part of the Rubenstein Arts Access Program, was funded by David and Alice Rubenstein. Additional support is provided by the U.S. Department of Education, the Dr. Gerald and Paula McNichols Foundation, The Honorable Stuart Bernstein and Wilma E. Bernstein, and the National Committee for the Performing Arts.

For more information on the Theatre Department, please visit the College of Arts and Communication website or call 304-336-8006. For more information on WLU, please call 1.866.WESTLIB or visit