Posted on 2/2/14

Miracle worker2(Photo courtesy of Salina Chatlain, Montana Repertory Theatre)GREENVILLE, Ky. (2/26/14) – There are few who have not seen the great American classic "The Miracle Worker".

The inspiring true story follows Anne Sullivan, "The Miracle Worker" and her efforts to teach Helen Keller, who was struck blind, deaf and mute at an early age.

Keller was seven-years-old in 1887, when Sullivan began their journey to help Keller communicate through persistence, stubbornness and love. Keller excelled and eventually graduated from college in 1904.

The original play, written by William Gibson for a live television broadcast in the late 1950s, was based on Helen Keller's autobiography. It went on to become a Broadway hit and Oscar-winning film.

However, the production coming to the Felix E. Martin Jr. Hall, at Muhlenberg High School this Thursday, gives a whole new perspective to this familiar play, according to Greg Johnson. Johnson is the artistic director for the theatre group. He told SurfKY News about the unique repertory group, and the production itself.

"Montana Repertory Theatre is an interesting touring company. There are not many like it," Johnson said. "It is a professional touring company affiliated with the University of Montana. However we audition professional actors in New York, Seattle, Chicago and Los Angeles, (too). We also audition upper level students from the university for roles as well. For students it is part of the curriculum. The professionals love to work with the students, give them advice, and give back to the younger actors in a way they wouldn't ordinarily have the opportunity to do. The fact that we've continued successfully for the past 40 years shows that the public responds to this kind of energy in the company," Johnson said.

Johnson said the theatre group travels approximately 15,000 miles a year across the nation, with a cast and crew of 15, two large trucks and three vans. He noted that in this high-tech age, there is still nothing that compares to seeing live performers bring the story to life.   

Miracle worker1(Photos courtesy of Salina Chatlain, Montana Repertory Theatre)

"As we get more and more of our entertainment on screens, large and small, we feel the edge that we have is presenting an audience with a unique live experience you can only get from actors live on stage," Johnson said.

Johnson noted that the director of this particular production brings a new vision to the story.

"Our director is Bernadette Sweeney from Ireland," Johnson said. "She brings a unique European perspective to the production. So while you may have seen the movie, or another production, you've never seen anything like ours. She unitizes video and multimedia components. She has people doing various scenes going on at the same time. It's a totally new production, and the response has been tremendous across the nation," Johnson said.

"The Miracle Worker" plays tomorrow night, Feb. 27, at Felix E. Martin Jr. Hall, 7 p.m.

Tickets to "The Miracle Worker" are $10 for adults, $5 for students, and are available at Felix E. Martin Jr. Hall online, at the door, or call (270) 377-3115.

Paul McRee
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