The Miracle Worker

By William Gibson


Directed by Carol Dolphin
March 9 to 25, 2012


Read the Reviews:
Waukesha Freeman, WaukeshaNOW


Photos:
Click on a photo to see a larger image

Photos By Carroll Studios Of Photography

Volunteer of the Production

Phillip Alonge
Cast 

Angila Allen

Viney .

Ellie Allen

Martha

Joy Bartoli

Polly

Dylan Baxter

James Keller

Mary Kate Drayna

Laura

Kalea Dolphin

Alice

Elle Erato

Sarah

Jacqueline Gosz

Kate Keller

Maya Guadagni

Helen Keller

Colleen Kartheiser

Annie Sullivan

Peggy Neary-Frattura

Aunt Ev Keller

Regan Nugent

Mary

Esther O’Brien

Persia

Lauren Penzkover

Beatrice

Jamie Ryan

Captain Keller

Michael Schottle

Doctor/Anagnos

Production Staff 

Director

Carol Dolphin

Stage Manager

Cindy Velcheck

Assistant Stage Manager

Leah Teske

Set/Lighting Designer

John R. Dolphin

Master Carpenter

Jeff Smerz

Costume Designer

Sharon Sohner

Lighting Assistant

Kristen Kraklow

Sound Designer

John Santroch

Properties Designer/Set Decorator

Ellen Rohr

Wig Master

Anthony Mackie

Cast superb in powerful ‘Miracle Worker’ story

By JULIE McHALE - TimeOut Theater Critic
March 15, 2012

One of the most unusual triumphs of the late 19th century occurred in Tuscumbia, Ala. A determined, creative teacher by the name of Annie Sullivan unlocked the wonders of the world to a young blind, deaf child named Helen Keller.

It is staggering to think how this young inexperienced teacher, who was once blind herself, learned how to reach this wild little girl who was trapped in her body with very limited resources for taking in or reaching out to the people in her environment.

"The Miracle Worker," now running at the Waukesha Civic Theatre, is a very demanding play, especially with the roles of Helen and Annie. To find a young girl who can simulate blindness and deafness is a challenging, to say the least.

WCT, under the able direction of Carol Dolphin, found such a girl in Maya Guadagni, an actress who achieves credibility in the part because she looks younger than she is. She did a phenomenal job of creating young Helen.

Colleen Kartheiser as Annie Sullivan is just as stunning. She captures Annie’s strength, her frustration and her eventual breakthrough.

Other members of this impressive cast excelled. Captain Keller, well rendered by Jamie Ryan, typifies the stubborn, domineering Southern "gentleman" always at odds with someone, but especially with his son James, strongly enacted by Dylan Baxter.

As Kate, Jacqueline Gosz credibly creates the long-suffering, accommodating wife and mother. Aunt Ev (Peggy Neary-Frattura) and Viney (Angila Allen) bring energy and spunk to their roles, as well. All in all, the play is effectively cast, even the very minor roles.

As the story proceeds, we experience different points of view, various methods of coping with adversity and clashing personalities, mirrored in the struggle of Helen and Annie. The physicality in some of the scenes between them is extremely exhausting, both for the characters and for us as we empathize with the war of wills that is occurring.

How to communicate with a child that has been given free rein when both the main channels of communication are inoperative is beyond the pale, but Sullivan, who has some understanding of impairment and overcoming difficulties, is, in truth, a miracle worker.

As it turns out, Sullivan stayed with Helen for more than 40 years, continuing to assist with her development. If it hadn’t been for Sullivan, none of us would have ever learned about this inspiring story of two amazing women.

John R. Dolphin’s set design is quite easily adjusted for changes in venue. The working pump is a delight. As we experience this story, we are reminded that it is always useful to encounter people whose challenges far exceed our own. It readjusts our perspective and reminds us to be grateful for what we have and not always be whining over picayune concerns.

Kudos to Carol Dolphin and her crew for bringing us such a lovely retelling of this heroic story.

Review Title

By Reviewer Name
Posted: Month 16, 2011

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WCT's top-notch cast pulls off 'Miracle'

By Marilyn Jozwik - WaukeshaNOW Theater Critic
March 13, 2012

At this year's Academy Awards a performer who spoke virtually no words in his film was awarded the best actor Oscar.

In Waukesha Civic Theatre's "The Miracle Worker," a young actress must also perform without words. Yet her performance spoke volumes on Sunday.

Playing the young Helen Keller, who lost her sight and hearing after an illness when she was 18 months old, 14-year-old Maya Guadagni of Brookfield has a monumental task. She must grope, grunt, and gyrate during frequent temper tantrums, as Helen, who has been reduced to something akin to a pet in a traditional Southern household in the 1880s.

Helen's mother, Kate (Jacqueline Gosz), loves her handicapped child dearly but is ill-equipped to provide any help, even when getting advice from medical experts.

"Every day she slips further away. I don't know how to call her back," says Kate.

Exacerbating the situation is Helen's father, Captain Keller (Jamie Ryan), who is ready to commit Helen to an asylum. The family is unable to discipline the child, allowing her to eat off their plates, hit the hired help and generally do whatever else she pleases. They have failed in every attempt to communicate with her.

Capt. Keller's son, James (Dylan Baxter), disdains his ineffective father and stepmother and is impertinent at every opportunity.

The family, in short, is a mess.

It is this dysfunctional situation that Annie Sullivan (Colleen Kartheiser) enters as the Kellers' last resort to help Helen.

Graduating student Annie and her school's director, Michael Anagnos (Michael Schottle), mull challenges that Helen brings. "Maybe there's a treasure inside," says Anagnos, to which Annie replies, "Maybe there's nothing."

Annie, left virtually blind by a childhood illness, had been to the school of hard knocks. Sent to a poorhouse along with her crippled brother by their widowed, alcoholic father, Annie became hardened but was able to get the education she begged for.

Kartheiser, who handles Annie's Irish brogue convincingly, fills her character with incredible dimension. She exudes confidence, strength and pluck as she confronts the irascible Captain Keller with her demands. Her frustration is palpable, yet her determination trumps all.

Sullivan is, perhaps, one of the most admired persons in American literature and Kartheiser captures all that is admirable in her.

The scenes between Kartheiser's Annie and Guadagni's Helen are things of beauty, especially the one in which Annie is left in the dining room to teach Helen table manners. The comparable movie scene, starring Anne Bancroft and Patty Duke is one of the most poignant segments in cinema. Seeing that scene live on stage was even more incredible and a really amazing piece of acting on both actors' parts as Annie tries contain Helen, who eludes her like a slippery bar of soap.

Guadagni gets inside Helen and never leaves her, keeping the awkward movements, blank looks, and incessant attention-seeking behavior that turn the household upside down. Guadagni grows with her character as she responds to Annie's discipline ("Obedience is the gateway through which knowledge enters," says Annie) and eventually her love.

Because the scenes with Annie and Helen are steeped in physicality and emotion, it's easy to overlook the fine performances of the entire cast.

More than eliciting wonderful performances from the entire cast, this Carol Dolphin-directed "Miracle Worker" is able to draw some really emotional connections between the characters. Annie, cast in a crimson glow, hears the pleadings of her little crippled brother (who died in the poor house) when she's alone with her thoughts. Those provide an insight into Annie's past and her motivation to give Helen the chance at life her brother never had.

In an age when it's hard to find heroes with an iron-fisted will, the story of Annie Sullivan's triumph in making a miracle is most refreshing

The story had everyone in the audience Sunday standing and cheering, not only for this amazing teacher, but for this troupe's commitment to making it good.



Volunteer of the Production - Phillip Alonge

Phillip is the living embodiment of the spirit of community. He truly pours all of his energy into WCT. On this production, there wasn’t a thing that Phillip wasn’t willing to do. As a member of the run crew, he was always there for every scene change and never missed a cue. His enthusiasm was valued by the entire cast and crew and his dedication to the show helped it to be successful.