BWW Review: THE MIRACLE WORKER at Cincinnati's Covedale Theatre for the Performing Arts
What meaning has a production whose roots are over 100 years old?
The 1962 movie THE MIRACLE WORKER features Patty Duke as the blind and deaf Helen Keller and Anne Bancroft as her tutor Annie Sullivan who coaxes her out of her tantrums and teaches her to spell using hand signs. Both took home Academy Awards - Anne for Best Actress and Patty for Best Actress in a Supporting Role. Arthur Penn directed with screenplay by William Gibson.
Part of Cincinnati Landmark Productions, Covedale Center for the Performing Arts took William Gibson's 1959 play of the same title and recreated it on the stage September 7 - October 1, 2017.
Director Greg Procaccino, active in the Cincinnati community for many years, said, "The Miracle Worker is a story whose inner core resonates for audiences of any time period. Every life deserves the chance to learn and be taught about the wonders of our world. And from that learning, the individual finds how they can be a vital part of contributing to and or changing that world."
Lead actors Brooke Chamberlin as Helen and Rebecca Whatley as Annie Sullivan deliver strong performances in the volatile relationship of student and teacher as they gradually adapt to each other. Helen fights tooth and nail at first, but eventually settles down, learns table manners, but more importantly how to communicate in a speaking world. Spirited, but also blind Annie works hard with her pupil realizing that there is a mind and spirit beneath the violence. Helen eventually learns eighteen nouns and three verbs.
The climax of the play is Helen's speaking the word 'water' as it pours from a pump. Through all this drama, eventually the theme that the human spirit can overcome any obstacle emerges.
The play takes place in the 1880's with a set of a wooden frame surrounding a dining table and bed. Costumes are true to the time. A minor glitch is Mrs. Keller's wig, which looks fake.
Brent Alan Burlington as Captain Keller gives a strong performance as the demanding, but concerned, father. The young Brooke Chamberlin appears to the audience as if she really is blind and deaf.
Source of the play is The Story of My Life, an autobiography of Helen Keller. THE MIRACLE WORKER was remade twice for TV; once in 1979 and then in 2000.
For more information, contact the Covedale Center for the Performing Arts at (513) 241-6550. Cost is adults for $29; students and seniors for $26. Visit the web at www.cincinnatilandmarkproductions.com.
Picture is provided.