The Transylvania Times -

By William Douglas
Transylvania Extension Master Gardener 

BLT's 'Miracle Worker' A Heartwarming Drama – Brevard NC

 


“The Miracle Worker,” the inspiring story of Helen Keller by William Gibson, is Brevard Little Theatre’s fourth production of the 2015 season.

Through the magic of theatre, and the excellent direction of Jim Walker, who is a very experienced, first-time director for BLT, we are taken back to Alabama in the 1880’s and into the home of the Keller family. Captain Keller and his wife Kate discover that due to an illness, their infant baby daughter has lost her sight and hearing. The overprotective family, not knowing how to effectively deal with the situation, give in to Helen’s tantrums with sweet treats, hugs and anything that will hopefully have a calming effect on their young daughter, and once again bring order to the Keller household. After many heart wrenching discussions, a decision is reached to hire a governess to work with Helen. However, when 20-year-old Annie Sullivan arrives for her first position as governess, she is apprehensive to say the least, but determined to stand up for what she believes.

Walker has a wonderfully talented cast to bring this classic drama to life, including; Clare Kennerly, who is brilliant as Helen. This young lady, a 7th grader at Brevard Middle School, really does her role justice and hopefully will be seen many more times on the BLT stage.

Cast as Annie Sullivan, with an equally outstanding performance, is Erin Smith. Her portrayal of Annie could not be more moving, knowing that her charge needs discipline instead of coddling. Thanks again to director Walker, the intense physical scenes between Annie and Helen are very well staged and choreographed and will capture your heart.

There are other characters on stage, of course, and there are wonderful performances by everyone in this cast, but at the heart of the play is the tense and strained combative relationship between Annie and Helen that may even foster a heartwarming tear or two.

The balance of the cast includes: Fred Greene, in his first dramatic role, who gives a very strong and moving portrayal as Captain Keller, Helen’s father. Julie Vorus is equally as strong as the anxious, yet loving and compassionate Kate, Helen’s mother.

Andy Thompson stands out in the role of James Keller, Captain Keller’s son by a first marriage. Thompson has given many good performances, but this is one of his best yet. Bonnie Clark is always true to her characters, this one included, and does a fine job as Viney, the housekeeper.

Next we have the meddling Aunt Ev, played with just the right touch by Lois O’Connor.

The balance of this fine supporting cast continues with Isabella Burke-Doane as Martha, Bradley Rundell as Percy, Steven Gee as Mr. Anagos, Doug Grimm as the doctor, Landon Pierron as Jimmy, Harper Wade as the blind girl, and last but not least, the family dog, played by Marley.

The set by Stephen Marsh is top notch, beautifully capturing the feel of the pre-1900 era and utilizing different levels and side stages to allow the action to flow smoothly. Congratulations also to Chuck Place for his well done lighting design. Finally, the costumes for this production are excellent and beautifully capture the period, thanks to the expertise of Sandi Thompson.

There is also no question that co-producers Annette Hobbs and Barbara Grimm had a major challenge in mounting a production this intricate, but suffice to say they met that challenge and have given BLT a dramatic winner. A tip of this reviewer’s hat to the entire cast and crew for a production that truly is a recognition of the potential of the human spirit on stage and off.

This year BLT is running their productions for three consecutive weekends, so you still have time to see a performance. The show runs for two more Friday and Saturday nights at 7:30 p.m., Aug. 14, 15, 21 and 22, with two more Sunday matinees on Aug. 16 and 22 at 3 p.m. Ticket prices are $16 for adults, $11 for students, and children 12 years and under, $5.50. The play is presented at The American Legion Hall, located at 55 East Jordan St., in Brevard. Reservations can be made for all performances by calling the BLT Box Office at (828) 884-2587.

 
 

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