The Rep. of St. Louis Presents Gibson's 'MIRACLE WORKER' 2/11 - 3/8

The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis (The Rep) continues its 2008-2009 Mainstage series with William Gibson's The Miracle Worker.

Performances of The Miracle Worker will be given on the Browning Mainstage of the Loretto-Hilton Center for the Performing Arts, 130 Edgar Road, Webster Groves, February 11-March 8, 2009.

Curtain times are Tuesday at 7:00 pm; Wednesday-Friday at 8:00 pm, selected Wednesday matinees at 1:30 pm; Saturday evenings at 5:00 pm; selected Saturday nights at 9:00 pm; Sunday matinees at 2:00 pm; and selected Sunday evenings at 7:00 pm.

Ticket prices start at just $14.50. To purchase, visit The Rep Box Office, located inside the Loretto-Hilton Center, charge by phone by calling (314) 968-4925, or visit The Rep's online box office at www.repstl.org.

Share the Miracle: When purchasing tickets to The Miracle Worker, you can help others while helping yourself. Just use the promotion code "MIRACLE" when completing your ticket purchase and The Rep and KEZK-FM will waive the service charge and donate a portion of the sale to the Children's Miracle Network, a non-profit organization dedicated to saving and improving the lives of children by raising funds for children's hospitals across North America.

The Rep's production of The Miracle Worker is sponsored by The Rep's Leading Ladies, an unique giving initiative bringing together a group of women to financially support the production of a Mainstage show.

Captain Arthur Keller and his wife Kate are at a loss. Their six-year-old daughter Helen was struck deaf and blind as an infant. The child is aware of her surroundings, but she cannot communicate past primitive demands. Having been to specialists all over the South, Helen's afflictions cannot seem to be cured. They wish to teach her things a child her age should know but cannot conceive of how.

As a consolation to the disabled Helen, everyone around the house gives her whatever she wants in order to prevent a tantrum. She gets candy anytime she demands it. She grabs food off people's plates. She hits or kicks anyone who stands in the way of something she wants. Her sympathetic mother has tried to excuse her behavior by saying that she doesn't know any better, but everyone in the Keller household believes that it's time she learns. Otherwise they fear the only other option is having Helen committed to an asylum.

Not knowing how to reach her, they hire Annie Sullivan, a stalwart young woman from Boston who is partially blind herself. However, things don't go over quite the way they expected. Annie refuses to give in to Helen's stubborn and spoiled whims. Not only does she try to teach Helen speech by signing in her hand, but she also demands that Helen learn manners and behave like any other six-year-old is expected to.

Despite her hindrances, Helen shows intelligence. She picks up the signing fairly quickly, but it's a mere form of imitation. Annie can't get her to understand that the words being signed in her hand mean something; everything has a name. Although Helen resists Annie's discipline at first, she begins to behave and becomes a well-mannered child.

The Kellers are amazed with Annie's progress, but they believe that she has brought Helen as far as she can go. They wish to dismiss Annie believing she's done her job, but Annie begs to stay so that she can teach Helen to truly communicate. Annie has faith that Helen has enormous potential, not just to be obedient, but to be a fully contributing member to society. She believes Helen's mind is gifted and unique-she only needs to reach it.

A lyrical, profoundly moving story for the whole family to share, and a testament to the powerful influence of dedicated teachers, William Gibson's The Miracle Worker-based in part on Helen Keller's own memoirs-is produced on The Rep's Mainstage to inspire and uplift audiences nearly five decades after its original Broadway debut.

Playwright William Gibson was born in 1914 in New York City. He spent much of his early life in Topeka, Kansas, later moving to Stockbridge, Massachusetts where his wife, Margaret, had taken a job as a psychoanalyst. He wrote poetry, fiction and scripts for stage, television and films. His plays include The Miracle Worker, which was originally produced for TV's Playhouse 90 and which received the Tony Award for Best Play for its original Broadway production in 1959 starring Anne Bancroft and Patty Duke; Two for the Seesaw; A Cry of Players; Golda and Golda's Balcony (both about The Life of Prime Minister Golda Meir of Israel); The Butterfingers Angel; Monday After the Miracle (a sequel to The Miracle Worker which had a brief run on Broadway in 1982); Goodly Creatures and Handy Dandy. He is the author of a novel, The Cobweb (made into a 1955 MGM film), as well as the musical version of Clifford Odets' Golden Boy. His several books include The Seesaw Log; A Mass for the Dead, a study of his family; and a volume of poetry titled Winter Crook. His 1974 book, A Season in Heaven, examines metaphysics and the creative process. Gibson died at age 94 in November 2008, at his home in Stockbridge.

The role of Helen Keller in The Rep's production of The Miracle Worker will be played by two young actresses, Olivia Jane Prosser of Kirkwood and Hannah Ryan of Webster Groves. Ms. Prosser and Ms. Ryan will appear at alternating performances during the production run.

The cast also includes Amy Landon as Annie Sullivan, Ashlee Marnae as Martha, Jarrett D. Harkless as Percy, Krista Hoeppner as Kate, John Rensenhouse as Captain Keller, Donna Weinsting as Aunt Ev, Matthew Carlson as James, Jerry Vogel as Dr. Anagnos, Monica Parks as Viney and Murray as the Kellers' dog.

The Miracle Worker is directed by The Rep's Associate Artistic Director Susan Gregg, who previously directed productions of The Clean House and A Number in the Studio Theatre series, among many others. The creative staff also includes John Ezell, scenic designer; James Scott, costume designer; Michael Philippi, lighting designer; Tom Mardikes, sound designer; Glenn Dunn, stage manager; and Shannon B. Sturgis, assistant stage manager.

For more information about The Miracle Worker, including a guide introducing the characters, plot and background on the play; photos and video related to the production; and more, visit The Rep's comprehensive website at www.repstl.org.

 



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