‘Secret in the Wings’ Twists and Turns to Surprise Ending

WEST LIBERTY — A strange contemporary play, “The Secret in the Wings,” is the next production for the Hilltop Players. Opening at 7:30 p.m. Nov. 29, the one act production was written by Mary Zimmerman.

Zimmerman adapts a group of lesser-known fairy tales to create this theatrical work that sets dark mystery against her signature wit and humor. The framing story concerns a child and the frightening babysitter with whom her parents leave her.

As the babysitter reads from a book, the characters in each of the tales materialize, with each tale breaking off just at its bleakest moment before giving way to the next.

The play is co-directed by senior theatre major, Callie Carroll, and WLU theatre director Michael Aulick.

Carroll is from Morgantown, and will graduate in May 2019. She’s planning on entering the professional world of theater after graduation and has already lined-up three professional auditions as her next big step. She tells us a bit more below:

Q. What inspired you get into theatre?

I moved to Morgantown from Raleigh, North Carolina when I was 8 years old and my mother got me involved in children’s theatre as a way to make friends. I fell in love with it then and never stopped acting and being involved in all aspects of theatre, including set building, costumes and everything. I also got a chance to direct in high school.

Q. Have you seen the play “The Secret in the Wings” performed before?

I’ve not. Professor Aulick chose the play and it’s a contemporary play from one of Aulick’s favorite playwrights. It’s performed in one act, with no intermission, and runs about 90 minutes.

Q. What interests you the most about directing?

I’ve always been an involved person in theater and wanted to learn all aspects of the play. Directing involves all parts of the play so it’s everything. I love seeing the cohesion of the final product with the actors and everything involved. I had a chance to direct a performance last year, a director’s showcase at Kelly Theatre. It also was a one-act.

Q. What is the unique or special thing about this play?

The play lends itself to mystery in a way, since the audience is figuring it out with the actors. It consists of a number of stories (fairy tales) and the way they are told. You don’t understand it at the start. It’s intriguing to the audience because you don’t know where it will go next. Once you see it all, you realize nuances that you didn’t catch. It’s fun to see. The action is fragmented and it leaves you a bit surprised. Zimmerman keeps it very interesting and there’s a twist at the end that ties it all together.

Q. Can you give us some information about the cast?

There are 10 cast members, five men and five women. All members of the cast are equally important since it’s and ensemble-show. We have both seasoned performers and younger ones. There’s good energy and drive. It’s exciting to see the cast bring new things to the table.

Q. Why should people come see “The Secret in the Wings”? What can they expect?

This show challenges the audience to stay involved and is definitely not boring. It’s a dynamic night of theatre.

“I think that when you look at a program of our size, West Liberty University cranks out great shows that challenge performers and challenges the technical aspects of our program. But somehow it looks effortless,” Carroll added.

“Zimmerman is known for her use of costumes, props, sets, and lighting that adds to the drama of these fairy tales,” she said.

Each member of the cast is simply named the actor’s name since every actor plays at least five roles, according to Carroll. The cast includes:

Seniors Alexandra Burdick and Amanda Tamplen, juniors Ben Moore, Jalen McCrary and Daniel White; sophomores Autumn Carver, Lexy Glover and Hayden Heiserman; freshmen Delaney Bird and Shannon Shiflett. Understudies are junior Grant Vancamp and freshman David Gaudio.

Students are responsible for nearly all of the set and costume design and include:

Stage Manager: junior Hunter Helms

Assistant Stage Manager: freshman David Gaudio

Music Director: senior Amanda Tamplen

Choreographer: Jill Howard Warren, adjunct professor of dance

Set Designer: senior Christopher Rees

Lighting Designer: physician assistant graduate student Alex Franke

Costume Mistress: sophomore Autumn Carver

Props Master: senior Alex Burdick

Sound Technicians: Austin Lee, Mason West, Kody Liller, all music majors

Times and dates for “The Secret in the Wings” are 7:30 p.m., Nov. 29-30 and Dec. 6-8 and 3 p.m., Sunday Dec. 9.

Tickets for all Hilltop Players productions will be available through Brown Paper Tickets (brownpapertickets.com) online and on sale 30 days prior to the opening of each production. For more information, please call or email maulick@westliberty.edu.

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