The Miracle Worker, the classic 1959 American play by William Gibson, describes the epic battle between blind/deaf Helen Keller and Annie Sullivan, her young teacher. Annie, determined to discipline and teach the wild child to communicate, is at first frustrated by the Keller family, who spoil and indulge their handicapped daughter. While most of us are familiar with Helen Keller’s remarkable achievements, her early education was experimental, with a high risk of failure. The Miracle Worker, a play for the entire family, continues to inspire us with its humor, energy and optimism. The show, produced and directed by Michael Whitehill, will run at Church Hill Theatre from September 12-28.
The Miracle Worker won four Tony Awards on Broadway and its stars, Anne Bancroft and Patty Duke, earned Oscars for their portrayals of Annie and Helen. Michael Whitehill brings a fresh take, interpreting the iconic drama through a more modern understanding of the deaf/blind community and casting age-appropriate actors in all the roles.
The cast features 7-year-old Darby Carroll as Helen and Gunston student Iz Clemens as Annie, both close to the actual ages of the historic Keller and Sullivan. Helen’s family is portrayed by Matt Folker as her father, Becka Van Aken as her mother, and Christine Kinlock and Robbie Spray as her aunt and brother. Patrick Fee is Mr. Anagnos and Monte Hailey is the doctor. Fikirte Shiferaw plays Viney and Helen’s companions are played by Naomi Hodge, Mackenzie Carroll, Megan Mansfield, and Azaria Shiferaw. Jane Terebey and various cast members provide off-stage voices.
Assistant to the Director Darlene Greer and Disabilities Advisor Kathy Jones both have extensive experience working with people in the deaf community and coached the actors in appropriate behaviors. Stage Manager Brianna Johnson calls the shots backstage while Doug Kaufmann and Steve Payne designed and run the lights and sound. Brian Draper provided the décor for the set, which was designed and constructed by Michael Whitehiill. Chelsea Housand served as dramaturge and assisted with graphic arts.
St. Luke’s Parish (just across Main Street from the Theatre) invites you to a late summer picnic before the Sunday matinees of The Miracle Worker on September14, 21 and 28. Enjoy hotdogs, pretzels and other fare. So, come early, park easily, and enjoy the grounds from 12:30 on. For more information about this picnic call St. Luke’s Parish at 410-556-6644or online at StLukesandStAndrews@gmail.com.
The Miracle Worker runs from September 12-28, with performances at 8 pm on Fridays and Saturdays and 2 pm on Sundays. To ensure accessibility, the September 19-21 performances will feature signed interpretation. Tickets are $18 for adults and $10 for students, with special prices for groups of ten or more during the signed interpretation weekend. Reservations can be made by calling the box office at 410-758-1331 or online at www.churchhilltheatre.org
Photo #1: Annie Sullivan (Iz Clemens) gets her first (actually “fist”) impression from Helen Keller (Darby Carroll) as others look on in Church Hill Theatre’s September 12-28 production of William Gibson’s “The Miracle Worker” (photo by PPatterson).
Photo #2: The Kellers (Robby Spray, Matt Folker and Becca Van Aken) form their first impression of Helen’s teacher, Annie Sullivan (Iz Clemens) in Church Hill Theatre’s September 12-28 production of William Gibson’s “The Miracle Worker” (photo by PPatterson).
Photo #3: Aunt Evaline (Christine Kinlock) and James (Robbie Spray) discuss Genesis 32: 24-32 in Church Hill Theatre’s September 12-28 production of William Gibson’s “The Miracle Worker” (photo by PPatterson).
Photo #4: Helen (Darby Carroll) finds some play things with Annie Sullivan (Iz Clemens) in Church Hill Theatre’s September 12-28 production of William Gibson’s “The Miracle Worker” (photo by PPatterson).