Friday, December 19, 2014
YOLO COUNTY NEWS
99 CENTS

Young actors shine in ‘The Miracle Worker’

Brittni Barger as Annie Sullivan with Bella Bagatelos as Helen Keller. Courtesy photo

By
From page A11 | October 09, 2012 |

Check it out

What: “The Miracle Worker”

When: Now through Sunday, Oct. 28

Where: Sacramento Theatre Company’s Main Stage, 1419 H St.

Tickets: $34-$38 general, $29-$33 seniors, $15 students

Information: 916-443-6722 or www.sactheatre.org

Executive producing director Michael Laun, in his opening remarks to the Sacramento Theatre Company audience, pointed out that the first time STC performed William Gibson’s classic “The Miracle Worker” was 50 years ago, in 1962.

Half a century later, the work still holds up as a powerful, inspiring theatrical work, especially in the capable hands of director Greg Alexander and his talented cast.

The success of this work depends on the actors who play the young Helen Keller, and her would-be teacher, Annie Sullivan.

Courtney Shannon, a ninth-grader at Natomas Charter’s Performing and Fine Arts Academy, has been acting in musicals for several years, but this is her first foray into dramatic acting (she alternates with Bella Bagatelos as Helen). She is 95 percent convincing as the blind/deaf girl (there were a few moments when she obviously “saw” what she was approaching — a step in one case, and her brother’s outstretched hand in another), but overall she did an outstanding job.

The intense battle scenes between Helen and Annie Sullivan, as the latter attempts to teach Helen manners and try to get her to understand the concept of “words,” were wonderful and must have left both actresses exhausted. The audience is taken on such a roller coaster of emotions that when Helen finally “gets it,” there was a lot of sniffling and wiping of eyes in the audience.

Sullivan’s character is in the more-than-capable hands of Brittni Barger. Though director Alexander has eschewed the usual Irish brogue, it is not necessary to get into the soul of Annie, and Barger is full of spunk and fire and, despite her inexperience, is willing to fight for her pupil. She is passionate about giving Helen every chance to fulfill her potential, despite her handicaps.

(I once had a friend who was blind and deaf and who insisted she was not “disabled,” but merely “handicapped.”)

Shannon and Barger are backed by an excellent cast. Gary Wright is a very strong Captain Keller, a role that does not often stand out, but in Wright’s case does. He loves his daughter, but, along with the rest of the family, makes too many allowances for her bad behavior, which undermines Annie’s work with the child.

Michele Hillen is Helen’s mother, who desperately wants to know how to communicate with her daughter, but who also finds it difficult to be strict with her.

Griffith Munn (who alternates with Garrick Sigl) is surprisingly strong as the wise-cracking brother, James Keller, afraid of his father, not willing to accept his stepmother, and the only person in the family who sees that Annie’s approach to the girl is vital to her progress.

Others in the cast include Jeffrey Lloyd Heatherly in the dual role of the Doctor and Anagnos, the man who sends Annie to the Keller family; Georgann Wallace as Aunt Ev; and Tahlema Martin at the Kellers’ cook, Viney. Jordan Taylor and Jacob Navas played blind children Martha and Percy. They alternate in their roles with Carenna Thompson and Rion Romero.

The scenic design of Jarrod Bodensteiner is a multi-level set that includes an upstairs bedroom for Annie, the downstairs family dining room, the outside area that doubles as the cottage where Annie works alone with Helen for two weeks and the water pump area, which is vital to the closing scene.

Annie Sullivan went on to live with Helen Keller until Annie’s death in 1936. Helen’s list of accomplishments as an author, lecturer (she eventually learned how to speak) and political activist is impressive. She was one of the founders of the ACLU, and campaigned for women’s suffrage, labor rights and birth control. She died in 1968 and was inducted into the Alabama Women’s Hall of Fame in 1971.

One wonders what might have happened to that blind, deaf, out-of-control little girl if there had not been an Annie Sullivan in her life.

Comments

comments

  • Recent Posts

  • Enter your email address to subscribe to this newspaper and receive notifications of new articles by email.

  • .

    News

     
    UCD, UC team up to study effects of climate change

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A1 | Gallery

    Teens’ goal? Helping other soccer players around the world

    By Anne Ternus-Bellamy | From Page: A1 | Gallery

     
    There’s a plate for you at the Davis Holiday Meal

    By Dave Ryan | From Page: A1 | Gallery

    Police seek suspect in hit-and-run collision

    By Lauren Keene | From Page: A2

     
    Help sought in search for runaway Davis teen

    By Lauren Keene | From Page: A2

     
    Creative women share food, friendship

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

    Konditorei presents free holiday concert

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

     
    Welcome 2015 with Mumbo Gumbo at a gala bash

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

     
    Luminaria display planned in West Davis

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

    Sierra Club calendars on sale Saturday

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

     
    Willett bench is a labor of love

    By Jeff Hudson | From Page: A4

    Author! Author! UCD hosts talks, Q and A on Asia-focused books

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

     
    Blue Christmas service planned at Davis churches

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

    Libraries will be closed around the holidays

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A5

     
    See diving ducks at city wetlands tour

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A5 | Gallery

     
    Downtown gift cards get a new perk

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A6

    Meditation, Buddhism classes offered

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A7

     
    A home for the holidays?

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A8 | Gallery

    Nobel Prize winner will discuss research related to autism

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A8

     
    Traditional carols service is Saturday at St. Martin’s

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A9

    Explorit: Experience nano this spring

    By Lisa Justice | From Page: A9 | Gallery

     
    Supplies collected for victims of abuse

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A11

    Grandmothers support group meets weekly

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A11, 1 Comment

     
    Soup’s On will benefit NAMI-Yolo

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A11

    Donate to STEAC at Original Steve’s

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A11

     
    .

    Forum

    He needs them to pay up

    By Creators Syndicate | From Page: B5

     
    Kudos to Central Park Gardens donors and volunteers

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A14

    Tom Meyer cartoon

    By Debbie Davis | From Page: A14

     
    Cheers and Jeers: Have you ever seen the rain?

    By Our View | From Page: A14

    Defeating Ebola involves medicine, and prayers

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A14 | Gallery

     
    .

    Sports

    Cousins is back in lineup but Kings fall

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

     
    Devil boys hold off scrappy Rio Linda

    By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1 | Gallery

    Lady Blue Devils rout an undefeated Liberty squad

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B1

     
    UCD RB coach Wright heads to Florida; what next?

    By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1

    Aggies nab junior college defensive lineman

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B1

     
    Nostra-Dunning makes his college bowl picks

    By Bob Dunning | From Page: B2

    Tennyson’s first goal is the difference in Sharks win

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B6 | Gallery

     
    .

    Features

    Name droppers: Trio elected to academy of inventors

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A11

     
    .

    Arts

     
    ‘Before Midnight’ screening is tonight

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A15

    DMTC plans New Year’s Eve party

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A15

     
    Tom Rigney and Flambeau to play

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A15

     
    DMTC announces auditions for ‘Sweeney Todd’

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A15

     
    .

    Business

    After 19 years, Alfa Romeo returns

    By Ann M. Job | From Page: A16

     
    .

    Obituaries

    Rena Sylvia Smilkstein

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A6

     
    .

    Comics