For the City Times
The inspiring true story of a blind and deaf girl and the teacher who was able to reach her will be told on stage by the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point Department of Theatre and Dance March 3-5 and 9-11.
A production for the whole family, “The Miracle Worker” tells the story of Helen Keller, who lost her hearing and sight in infancy. As a young girl, Helen is introduced to Annie Sullivan, a teacher educated at the Perkins School for the Blind in Boston, and her life is forever changed.
Performances will be held at 7:30 PM in the Jenkins Theatre of the Noel Fine Arts Center on Friday and Saturday, March 3-4 and Thursday through Saturday, March 9-11. A matinee will be offered at 2 PM on Sunday, March 5.
Originally written for television and based on Keller’s autobiography, The Story of My Life, “The Miracle Worker” was adapted for the Broadway stage in 1959. It won four Tony Awards, including Best Play, and the 1962 film adaptation earned Academy Awards for the two lead actresses, Anne Bancroft and Patty Duke. Television versions were produced in 1979 and 2000, and it was revived on Broadway in 2010.
“This is a beautiful and inspiring true story,” said Theatre Professor Stephen Trovillion Smith, the show’s director. “It shows that with grit and determination, you can do anything.”
The show has three strong female role models, he said, including Helen, her teacher and her mother. It also brings to light topics relevant today, such as the joys and challenges of having melded families and children with special needs.
Playing Helen was a challenge for acting major Karley Scheidegger of Mount Horeb, as she has no lines. “I have only gestures and facial expressions,” she said. “Sometimes I get frustrated, tempted to speak out, to scream. I am able to use that anger and frustration for the character.”
Acting major Elena Cramer of Waukesha practices finger-spelling words from the play each night for her role as Annie Sullivan. While the role is emotionally and physically demanding, Cramer says she enjoys it.
“The play shows us the real Annie Sullivan,” Cramer said. “She made up her lessons as she went along, she was stubborn and got frustrated. It makes the amazing work she did all the more incredible.”
“The Miracle Worker” tells us there are still true heroes in the world who have a passion to help others, said Smith. “Being moved and inspired is something we all need right now.”
Tickets are $22 for adults, $21 for seniors, $17 for youth and $4.50 for students with UW-Stevens Point ID. Tickets are available at the UW-Stevens Point Information and Tickets Office, located in the Dreyfus University Center concourse, by calling 715-346-4100 or at http://tickets.uwsp.edu.