West Liberty, WV. – The West Liberty University Hilltop Players announce it’s 2017-2018 season, one they expect to be the biggest and most memorable to date. In addition to an aggressive four-production season, two special events are part of this year’s events.

AS IT IS IN HEAVEN by Arlene Hutton

The first show of the fall semester is Arleen Hutton’s AS IT IS IN HEAVEN, directed by WLU’S Associate Professor and Theatre Director, Michael L. Aulick. The play centers around a religious community that is changed when a non-believer has an ecstatic experience. The 1830’s Shaker society of Pleasant Hill, Kentucky, is set in ordered ways. Their once dramatic form of worship has by now developed into routine. The arrival of Fanny upsets the harmony; the Sisters suspect her to be a “winter Shaker,” one who suddenly converts when life gets too hard on the farm. Fanny sees angels in the meadow, and soon all the young women are receiving spiritual “gifts” of songs, drawings, ideas and giggles, completely upsetting the community. The leaders question Fanny’s intentions and honesty: Is this a resurgence of the original Shaker celebration or something manufactured by Fanny so that she can remain with the Shakers? Eldress Hannah is jealous that she, the most devout of Shakers, has not been privileged to see the visions. But only the ones who question need visual proof. Whether they were heavenly or earthly, the angels were there. “Hands to Work, Hearts to God” is their motto, and in each scene the Sisters are always at tasks. The set is as simple as the Shakers: benches, baskets and laundry. Hymns sung a cappella punctuate the scenes of the play, which ends with a joyful explosion of Shaker singing and ecstatic dance.

October 5-6 | 7:30 PM
October 12-14 | 7:30 PM
October 15 | 3:00 PM


A special addition to the season is the First Annual Hilltop Players’ Wall of Fame Ceremony. The Hilltop Players have a long and storied history that they are going to begin to celebrate through a selection process for a Wall of Fame.

The inaugural members of the Hilltop Players’ Wall of Honor will be:

Dr. Helen M.T. Kelly
Mr. Stanley Harrison
Mr. John E. Reilly

These three individuals represent approximately sixty years of teaching at West Liberty, impacting the lives of thousands of students. Their hard work and dedication to establishing, building, and maintaining the standard of education and production excellence that the Hilltop Players are known for make them perfect choices to be the first class of Hilltop Players’ Wall of Fame Honorees.

The ceremony will be on October 14th (Homecoming Weekend) and will start at 5:00pm in the Kelly Theatre. The ceremony will be followed by the unveiling of the new Hilltop Players’ Wall of Fame and a reception with the honored guests. Everyone is encouraged to stay for the Wall of Fame performance of AS IT IS IN HEAVEN.

There is a ticket price for the ceremony ($25) that includes the ceremony, the reception, and the show.


The second special event is a new incarnation in the WLU Theatre season. Due to an increasing enrollment in the student-majors, the program added a production to its season. This production is a STUDIO-LAB show that will allow more of the students to work on the craft of acting. Projects will focus on the acting technique, not the finishing elements of costumes, lights, and set. This minimalistic production will allow the theatre major to select a role(s) that will challenge them to become better artists. Students who are not cast in the first production, have an opportunity to work on their craft as part of the STUDIO-LAB performance. The student will be directed by John Hennen, Professor of Acting at WLU, and will focus on building a character using the Michael Chekhov-approach.

OCTOBER 26-28 | 7:30 PM

OCTOBER 29 | 3:00 PM


The second production, requiring a massive cast and crew, is THE BEST CHRISTMAS PAGEANT EVER, by Barbara Robinson. The amazingly popular children’s book, turned into a stage play, has become a hilarious Christmas classic. A couple struggling to put on a church Christmas pageant is faced with casting the Herdman children–probably the most inventively awful kids in history. You won’t believe the mayhem – and the fun – when the Herdmans collide with the Christmas story head on! While the laughs abound, the power of the play is in its ability to transform the audience, through the transformation of the Herdman family. Children who begin the play with no knowledge of ‘the Christmas story’ end up understanding better than most of us ever will.

November 30-December 1 | 7:30 PM
December 7-9 | 7:30 PM
December 10 | 3:00 PM

18 VICTORIA by Cody Vaigle

Show three is WLU’s winter show, typically the slot where they introduce the region to new plays/playwrights. This year they would love you to come and see a new work by Cody Daigle called 18 VICTORIA, written in 2013. Maggie Balsley, Professor of Voice, will work with the small cast (3 performers) to tell the story of siblings who are trying to deal with the dark happenings in the past that fractured the family. The need to come to grips is intensified due to the news that a huge asteroid is projected to collide with the earth in less than three weeks, setting off devastating consequences for life on earth. The three siblings scramble to mend their family ties and make sense of the devastating secret that originally tore them apart.

February 22-23 | 7:30 PM
March 1-3 | 7:30 PM
March 4 | 3:00 PM

ROMEO AND JULIET by William Shakespeare

William Shakespeare’s ROMEO AND JULIET will be the final theatre production of the season. The most famous love story in the world and one of Shakespeare’s early poetic masterworks, Romeo & Juliet follows two star-crossed lovers from love at first sight to eternal life hereafter. Caught tragically between two feuding families, alike in dignity and in enmity, Shakespeare’s immortal young lovers try to fashion a new world amid the violence of the old, but cataclysmic choices and tragic twists propel them toward a final confrontation with fate.

“These violent delights have violent ends
And in their triumph die, like fire and powder…”

act 2, scene 6

April 19-21 | 7:30 PM
April 22 | 3:00 PM

Tickets will be available through BrownPaperTickets and on sale 30 days prior to the opening of each production. For more information, please call Michael L. Aulick at 304.336.8103 or email [email protected]