By Sarrah Peters, News Editor
The Theatre of Gadsden will host performances of “The Miracle Worker” on the weekends of September 13-15 and September 20-22. The performances will be held at 7:30 p.m. on Friday and Saturday and at 2:30 p.m. on Sunday.
The production tells the true story of Annie Sullivan and her student Helen Keller, who is deaf and blind. Unable to communicate, Keller lashes out violently at her parents. At their wits end, Keller’s parents write to the Perkins Institute for the Blind. Sullivan, who is aging out of the Perkins program, takes the job.
Sullivan’s journey to the Perkins Institute is compelling as well, as she lost her sight due to eye infections she caught while in an alms house. She approached inspectors about wanting to receive an education, and they sent her to the Perkins Institute.
The cast of “The Miracle Worker” consists of about six main characters with about 16 supporting actors, many of whom are children. Eura Brown Elementary student Ava Claire Campbell was cast in the role of Helen Keller.
The show is part of the Theatre of Gadsden Alabama Bicentennial Celebration, which celebrates the state’s 200th anniversary, because of the true Alabama history depicted in the performance.
“The children that are in [the production] are learning to walk around and act like they are actually blind,” said director Ann Sharpe. “The little girl that plays Helen is doing a fabulous job figuring out and getting people to understand what she wants before her work with Annie Sullivan starts. This is only Ava’s second show with the Theatre of Gadsden. She was in the summer musical “Annie” that we did, but didn’t have a large role in that. She came to rehearsal and just wowed us.”
Ava’s aunt Angie regularly works with the Theatre of Gadsden and is helping coach Ava in her role.
About seven additional children are involved in The Miracle Worker, playing blind children.
“They do such a great job,” said Sharpe. “And several of them have not been on stage before.”
Sharpe added that while the Theatre of Gads-den does a lot of programs for children. it does not always have shows with children performing.
The cast has been rehearsing three days a week, and the actors playing Sullivan and Keller meet an additional day for rehearsal.
The Theatre of Gadsden also holds school showings for city and county schools that are open to the public.
Tickets for The Miracle Worker are $15 to $17 and available at http://www.theatreofgadsden.org
The Theatre of Gadsden will hold auditions for “The Best Christmas Pageant Ever” on September 27 and 28 from 6 to 7:30 p.m. for all children and 7:30 to 9 p.m. for all adults.
In “The Best Christmas Pageant Ever,” a couple putting on a church Christmas pageant is faced with casting the Herdman kids, who are inventively awful kids.