‘The Miracle Worker’ is story of Helen Keller

HAMILTON – The Greater Hamilton Civic Theatre (GHCT) will share a moving classic with its upcoming presentation of “The Miracle Worker,” which will run from Thursday, April 30 through Sunday, May 3 at Miami University Hamilton’s Parrish Auditorium. This Tony-Award winning production for “Best Play” captures Helen Keller’s inspirational journey.

“The Miracle Worker is the story of Helen Keller and Annie Sullivan,” said Director Rhonda Lucas. “It depicts their first meeting and the events leading up to Helen Keller’s understanding the concept of language for the first time. The author repeatedly speaks of, or writes action involving keys throughout the show. This, I believe, is to help illustrate that language is the key to learning. Helen spends much of the play locked inside her head, and it isn’t until the pivotal moment that she understands language that the door is unlocked.”

The show has a cast of 17 local actors and actresses, she said, only four of them have appeared on the stage for GHCT before, so many of them are getting to know each other for the first time. The cast includes Faith Marsh as Helen Keller, Elisa Yates as Annie Sullivan, Jon Jackson as Captain Keller, James Karr as James Keller and Hannah Brown as Kate Keller, among others. The show is produced by Jane and Barb Winkler.

“I love the story,” Lucas said. “I love that it is female centric and shows two women overcoming obstacles, and with perseverance, achieving greatness. Also, the Keller family dynamic is interesting to me. The story is heartwarming and can be enjoyed by people of all ages. I highly recommend it as a family outing.”

In the end, the young, blind, deaf and mute Keller learns to communicate after overcoming a number of struggles. Sullivan “the miracle worker” finally breaks through to her by exercising persistence and love. She changes Helen’s life.

“A couple of times when I’ve told someone that I’m directing the show, their reaction is; ‘Oh that will be depressing.’ On the contrary, though, I certainly do hope the audience feels something when they walk away from the show, and they may in fact shed a few tears,” Lucas said. “I believe it should be tears of joy. Last month, I was on a plane for a business trip and decided to read through the script again in mental preparation for directing, and when I got to the last page, I publicly cried right there on the plane.”

Producer Jane Winkler said she has enjoyed working on the production and said she’s been able to watch it come together from the initial script and rehearsals to opening night.

“It’s been great to be able to see the production come to life. The actors become the characters, and then you start adding the costumes, the set, lights and the sound and it brings the whole story to life,” Winkler said.

Keller dedicated her life to helping others, she said, it’s a powerful account.

“After seeing the show, I would hope that audiences would walk away with inspiration. Even with the amount of handicaps Helen Keller had, she was able to become a well-known author and teacher. She became a very able person. I hope people would learn to have more consideration for people with handicaps and try to understand what they are dealing with,” Winkler said.

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