W-A-T-E-R. With the touch of rushing water and tactile signing of those five letters, Annie unlocks Helen’s sealed voice to the world. It is finally the beginning of Helen’s potential to shine. With beautiful moments such as this, Dominion High School’s The Miracle Worker allowed the audience to feel the intense emotions of conquering one’s hardships and the sentimental effects of self-growth.
The Miracle Worker was originally written as a teleplay by William Gibson in 1957. It later reached the Broadway stage as a play in 1959, winning many Tony’s, including Best Play. Numerous movie adaptations were produced starting from 1962. The play follows Annie Sullivan, a young new teacher, and her mission to teach a deaf and blind girl, Helen, the concept of language.
Dominion High School’s The Miracle Worker shined brightly with their talented cast, effective sets/lighting, and the ability to immerse the audience with poignant scenes.
The most difficult, complex acting was perfectly executed by Saskia Hunter who portrayed the juvenile Helen Keller. The commitment and consistency in Helen’s demeanors and personality was amazing to watch as it truly brought her character to life on stage. Hunter’s grand physicality and subtle, yet strong facial expressions captured the mischievous, stubborn, and intelligent personality of young Helen. Hunter’s focus was impenetrable which was a great feat to master.
Noelle Hunter also matched with Saska Hunter’s astonishing acting with her portrayal of Annie Sullivan. Hunter’s earnest delivery of her lines with her unwavering Irish accent gripped the attention of the audience. The genuine compassion and building frustration for Helen seeped through in Hunter’s acting. Saskia and Noelle had great comedic chemistry together in their mildly violent and physical scenes, such as the spoon scene. Scenes with no dialogue between the two were just as powerful as the ones with meaningful words from Annie.
The supporting cast were standouts on their own. James Keller, the troublesome half-brother of Helen’s, was portrayed by Josh Thomas spectacularly. With a smug smirk and snide statements, Thomas was able to grasp the essence of a sarcastic, conceited teenager who struggles to accept his new stepmother. The comic relief that was provided by Thomas were delivered appropriately, breaking the serious tone of the play for some witty humor. The mother of Helen, Kate Keller, was characterized by Rebecca Williamson with poise. Williamson got the maternal protection for Helen across to the audience very well. Her sweet, motherly voice was even more impressionable with her consistent Southern accent. Rebecca Williamson and Josh Noah (Captain Keller) had good dynamics by depicting contrasting attitudes, warmth, and discipline toward their child.
The technical aspects of the show amplified the already strong performances of the actors and actresses. Leveled set were cleverly built as the audience were able to see each character’s whereabouts and to glimpse who the character really is in their moments without being the focus of the scene. Set was visually pleasing to the eye, choosing a fitting color palette for a 19th century Southern home. Lights were complimented the color tones of the set as well. Lights of cyclorama consisted of pretty colors of cool blues, light yellows, and warm oranges to illustrate the changing sky. The harshness and gentleness of the lights affected the mood nicely.
Helen Keller once said that life is a daring adventure or nothing at all. Dominion High School definitely got this message across as they produced a show about how hardships are part of everyone’s life and those bumpy roads are what makes the lovely moments even more cherished as one triumphs over tribulations.
“Language is to the mind more than light is to the eye.” In Dominion High School’s moving production of The Miracle Worker, this was certainly the case in the tale of Helen Keller and her teacher Annie Sullivan as they defy all odds, conquering a feat considered impossible.
The play, written by William Gibson, premiered on Broadway in 1959, enjoying a successful run and winning multiple Tony Awards, including Best Play. The Miracle Worker was later adapted into a 1962 film starring Anne Bancroft and Patty Duke. The show follows the early life of Helen Keller, who was left both blind and deaf following a fever as an infant, causing her to be completely nonverbal. Helen’s parents, Captain Arthur and Kate, have in turn spoiled her out of pity, allowing chaos to ensue as she lashes out at her family in rage. In a desperate last hope, the Keller’s hire Annie Sullivan, a governess and teacher. The two commence a battle of determination and begin a journey towards understanding each other and the world around them.
The cast effortlessly worked as a unit, reacting with physical movements and creating tangible relationships. Saskia Hunter, as Helen Keller, was a highlight of the show, as she perfected every intricacy to her youthful character with a graceful transformation from a scared young girl to one equipped with the understanding of language. Hunter never broke character and consistently portrayed the actions of a blind and deaf girl with wild movements and a blank stare. Noelle Hunter, as Annie Sullivan, truly embodied the stubborn nature of the Irish teacher, never faltering on her accent. The chemistry between the two was remarkable and the famous dinner scene helped to strengthen the idea that the scenes without lines were some of the most memorable.
Rebecca Williamson, as Kate Keller, brought southern charm to the show, as the gentle mother of Helen. Williamson’s pain was evident, but she also carried certain strength within her as she found it in herself to stand up to her husband. Josh Thomas, as James Keller, brought a comedic element to the show, as the disinterested half-brother. Thomas may have had a small part, but each line he delivered packed a punch. It was the evident connection felt by this family that helped to bring this show together.
The technical production of this show was quite remarkable in the fact that each aspect seemed to intertwine with the others. The bright lights on the stark white walls of the set hinted at the harsh Alabama sun and helped the audience understand how Annie’s eyes were affected by the move. A well pump sat on the side of the stage throughout the play, alluding to the end of the story and eliciting gasps from the audience as the pump was revealed as fully functioning. Voiceovers were utilized to portray Annie’s flashbacks and created a nice transition as sets were changed. Although there was a few malfunctions with the sound, improvisation by the cast was truly commendable.
The cast and crew of Dominion High School’s production of The Miracle Worker captivated with a miraculous performance sure to stick with the audience “forever and ever.”