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Hilltop Players Season to Bring Comedy, Drama and More to the Stage

Photo Provided Josie Jarrett plays Betty Meeks, the proprietor of Meeks Fishing Lodge. Grant VanCamp is playing Charlie ‘The Foreigner’ in the opening production of the Hilltop Players 2019-20 season at West Liberty University.

WEST LIBERTY — West Liberty University Hilltop Players are presenting a season of theater that has something for everyone.

The season begins on Homecoming Weekend with “The Foreigner,” a comedy written by American playwright Larry Shue. Directed by associate professor of theater Michael Aulick and assisted by Shelby Garrett, the play made its debut this week in the Kelly Theatre. Garrett also is an adjunct faculty member.

“The Foreigner” won two Obie Awards and two Outer Critics Circle Awards as Best New American Play and Best Off-Broadway Production.

Set in a fishing lodge in rural Georgia, often visited by British demolition expert “Froggy” LeSueur, who occasionally runs training sessions at a nearby army base, “The Foreigner” is lots of fun.

This time “Froggy” has brought along a friend, a pathologically shy young man named Charlie who is overcome with fear at the thought of making conversation with strangers. So “Froggy,” tells everyone that Charlie is from an exotic foreign country and speaks no English.

Once alone the nonsense begins, as Charlie overhears more than he should-the evil plans of a sinister, two-faced minister and his redneck associate; the fact that the minister’s pretty fiancee is pregnant; and many other damaging revelations made with the thought that Charlie doesn’t understand a word being said.

That he does fuels the hilarity of the play and sets up the wildly funny climax in which things go uproariously awry for the “bad guys,” and the “good guys” emerge triumphant.

Dates and times this weekend for “The Foreigner” are 7:30 p.m. today and Saturday, Oct. 11-12, and 3 p.m. on Sunday, Oct. 13 in the Kelly Theatre.

Coming up next on the Hilltop is “Radium Girls,” based on a true story that happened during World War I that written by D.W. Gregory. It is directed by Aulick and Maura Reiff.

The “Radium Girls” were female factory workers who suffered from radiation poisoning due to the luminous radium paint they were producing.

“Our students are terribly excited for ‘Radium Girls,'” said Aulick. “It’s a dramatic piece based on real life. Some women who worked at a factory got cancer because of the materials they were using, but the company never would admit or help them out with their medical bills. So the company was killing them, and they couldn’t get anybody to support them. It’s based on a true story, we were doing research about it and we were finding old articles about these women, which was a really interesting process.”

Dates and times for “Radium Girls” are 7:30 p.m., Nov. 20-23, and 3 p.m., Nov. 24 in the Kelly Theatre.

“Keely and Du,” a widely-discussed drama about abortion that was written by Jane Martin over 15 years ago, will be performed on the stage at 7:30 p.m., Feb. 26-29, and 3 p.m., March 1 in the Black Box Theatre Space.

“‘Keely and Du’ is a fabulous show that students are excited about that deal with reproductive rights for women and bringing the religious, conservative ideas and the right to choose, all together into a really interesting play,” said Aulick.

Shakespeare’s most beloved comedy “Much Ado About Nothing” will close this year’s Hilltop Players season on April 15.

Don Pedro, a prince from Aragon, stopped by in the town of Messina while returning from a successful battle with his soldier and close friend, Claudio. On the trip, Pedro noticed Claudio is falling for Hero, the daughter of Leonato, a governor of Messina. So the prince was trying to set a wedding for them, but his illegitimate brother Don John who has been jealous of Claudio decided to stop the wedding.

Even though the show is mainly talking about the love story between Claudio and Hero, more attentions are drawn into the dramatic couple, Beatrice, niece of Leonato, and Benedick, Pedro’s companion.

“We are very excited to perform ‘Much Ado about Nothing.’ It’s a really funny Shakespeare’s play, we will do it really well because we have the right actors for it. It should be a lot of fun,” said Aulick.

Dates and times for “Much Ado About Nothing” are 7:30 p.m., April 15-18, and 3 p.m., April 19 in the Kelly Theatre.

Aulick said he is confident about the 2019-20 season.

“‘The Foreigner’ will be a big hit; ‘Radium Girls’ might be the most successful artistic thing that we do; ‘Keely and Du’ may be the best acting that we do; ‘Much Ado about Nothing’ may be another huge hit,” he said. “Please join us and see just how entertaining are students can be.”

Tickets for all plays will be available through Brown Paper Tickets online and will be on sale 30 days before the opening of each production. For additional information, contact Aulick at maulick@westliberty.edu.

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