By Daniel Morgan, Contributing Writer
The Hilltop Players’ production of Mary Zimmerman’s “The Secret in the Wings” was… well, it’s still a secret to me.
As I walked into the Kelly Theater, I was ready for anything. I had never heard of the play before seeing this year’s production schedule, but when I read that it involves fairy tales, I was interested. I stayed focused on what was happening in front of me during the 65-minute runtime, and while I enjoyed the overall performance, I was left asking myself and audience members, “Did that make any sense?” To some, it did. To others and myself, it did not.
The play starts when a couple heading off on a night out leaves their daughter Lexy (Alexandria Glover) with a babysitter, their strange ogre of a neighbor, Mr. Moore (Benjamin Moore). He’s literally an ogre, but Lexy is the only one who sees it. Once they’re left alone in the house, the play turns into a dark, ominous, and oftentimes esoteric series of bedtime stories.
Some of the individual fairy tale segments, on their own, were well-acted and very interesting to watch. However, as they cut in and out of different tales and the framing story between Lexy and Mr. Moore, I was confused, and some of the magic of the individual stories got lost in the shuffle. By the end, I was left wondering what had just happened.
Senior theatre majors Callie Carroll and Christopher Rees used this production as their Capstone projects, Carroll as director and Rees as scenic designer. The show as a whole was a solid effort. The set was pretty dynamic, considering the play’s storyline, and I give Carroll props for taking on what seems like a challenging show, considering its complex narrative.
While I was a fan of the set, and the lighting was well done, I did not like the random musical elements that popped up throughout. I don’t think they fit well, and at one point, it turned a moment of comic relief into a cheesy transition. At the same time, it does add to the usual charm of a school production.
Each cast member in “The Secret in the Wings” took on multiple roles as each fairy tale had different characters. They acted well, but sometimes it was hard to differentiate which character an actor was playing because of the back-and-forth between the stories.
The ensemble included West Liberty University students Delaney Bird, Alexandra Burdick, Autumn Carver, Alexandria Glover, Hayden Heiserman, Jalen McCrary, Benjamin Moore, Shannon Shifflett, Amanda Tamplen, and Daniel White.
65 minutes goes by very quickly in this production, so it’s a nice distraction from the stress that comes at the end of a semester. Although, the overtly dark tone and puzzling narrative may not offer the best respite.
“The Secret in the Wings” finishes its run in the Kelly Theater this weekend, playing Dec. 6-8 at 7:30 p.m. and Dec. 9 at 3 p.m.
Photo Credit: Andrew Mehler