Mountain State Repertory Theatre, the summer professional theater of the West Virginia University School of Theatre and Dance, is presenting its first children’s show. It will not only dazzle youngsters, but will keep adults rolling in the aisles as well, all while delivering an uplifting message about the importance of accepting the uniqueness of others.

Mountain State Rep commissioned the play from award-winning Tennessee playwright Deborah DeGeorge Harbin. Titled The Unlucky Princess Battles the Ghouls (and other adventures), the play will be performed in the Gladys G. Davis Theatre located in the Creative Arts Center on the Evansdale Campus, June 20-22 and 27-29.

Joshua Williamson, director of the School of Theatre and Dance, said, “We are excited to launch a previously unavailable performance alternative for the audiences of Morgantown—quality children’s theater done by professionals. We hope that the entire family will come out for this fun new children’s show.”

In the play, Gwen, her brother Mikey and their mother have decided to make up a bedtime story after Gwen’s unfortunate day at school. As costume pieces fly and imagination soars, the bedroom transforms into a storybook landscape. Gwen, now Perla, is an unlucky princess, being hounded by an Ill Fate, who goes on an epic journey to change her destiny where she meets a number of colorful characters, including eyeball-loving ghouls and a T-Rex.

Harbin received her Masters of Fine Arts in Playwriting from the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C., where she completed other works, including Laws of Construction and The Trouble with Flowers. Her work with WVU School of Theatre and Dance Visiting Artist Jim Knipple began at The Run of the Mill Theatre in Baltimore, where Knipple served as artistic director. That theater produced her play called Radius: Universal Robot.

“My process with Jim has been very similar—he communicated with me about what Mountain State Rep was looking for, then we brainstormed together in the concept stage,” she said. “Once we’d honed in on a mutually satisfying concept, I went to work on the script.

“I hope that audiences will go away with a reminder that being different is okay and that life’s challenges are worth facing. I also hope that young audience members will go away heartened that their unique traits are not only acceptable, but wonderful.”

The Unlucky Princess is directed by Professor Knipple, who also directs the LAB Theatre in the School of Theatre and Dance. With more than 10 years of experience in developing new works, Knipple has been instrumental in bringing guest artist playwrights to WVU this past season to present material and offer guidance to students in the area of contemporary playwriting and devised theater.

Previously, he directed the David Ives play The Liar at WVU during the 2013-14 main stage season.

“It is exciting to create a brand new piece of theatre with a playwright and such a talented group of actors and designers,” Knipple said. “I am sure it will be a unique and wonderful experience for the audiences. It is nice to say we are creating a world premiere for Morgantown.”

Audience members can expect to dive into the imaginative world of the show by way of the extraordinary costumes and puppets designed by WVU Costume Design Professor Mary McClung.

“It feels like this show is a small glimpse into a child’s ability to transform the mundane into the real—an armchair can become a boat in the middle of the ocean, a knitted afghan can transform into a magical fishing net, and a rag doll into a regal princess,” McClung said. “For the parent or older audience member, this show might be seen as a homage to our childhood, and to our young audience members it might just spark a few new adventures. It is primarily just very good fun. I hope the audience enjoys it as much as we have enjoyed creating it.”

The Unlucky Princess features recent WVU Bachelor of Fine Arts in acting graduates Hannah Redmond and Adam Messenger, Bachelor of Fine Arts in acting senior Cynthia Nwoko, Master of Fine Arts in acting candidate Landon Green, and Jessica Bishop, who is associate professor of stage movement at WVU.

The Unlucky Princess will be performed in the Gladys G. Davis Theatre during June 20-22 and 27-29 with show times Friday at 7 p.m., Saturday at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m., and Sunday at 2 p.m.

Tickets are $20 for adults and $15 for audience members age 18 or under, WVU students, and senior citizens. There is a group rate of $10 per ticket for groups of 10 or more.

Tickets are available at, the CAC or Mountainlair Box Offices, or by calling 304-293-SHOW.

For more information on this production of The Unlucky Princess please visit call 304-293-2020, or email



Charlene Lattea, College of Creative Arts

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