By Ashley Cole, Contributing Writer
The Hilltop Players opened the 2018-19 season with “The Miracle Worker,” a play inspired by the relationship of Helen Keller, who lost her sight and hearing leading to the inability to speak, and her teacher and mentor, Annie Sullivan.
The play centers around the relationship between the two as Sullivan struggles to give Helen Keller the gift of language, hoping to expand her world and help her communicate.
I was able to attend a recent showing and was very excited to see it. I have been inspired by Helen Keller and her inspirational story, so I was very happy to see this show come to the hilltop.
The set was beautiful and had a very welcoming feeling and a homelike charm to it. The costumes were very well done. The cast was exceptional, with new members joining familiar faces onstage in this production.
MaKenna Berka as Helen Keller did a phenomenal job portraying her emotions and making the audience feel her presence. Considering she did all this without any speaking throughout the play was amazing.
Odessa Hores as Annie Sullivan did a wonderful job bringing to life Annie Sullivan’s determination to help Helen and her compassion.
Grant VanCamp as James Keller was an audience favorite, based on reactions I perceived during the performance I attended, with his sly humor and character growth as the story progressed. His relationship with Evan Morgan as Captain Keller was very interesting to watch as he struggled to come to terms with Helen’s condition and their differing beliefs.
The whole cast did a wonderful job portraying the family’s struggle and their improvements, not only with Helen, but with each other as the story progressed. Tillie the dog was also a audience favorite as Belle with her furry cuteness.
The sign language throughout the show was very well done and a favorable highlight of the show.
“The Miracle Worker” was a very beautiful and inspiring performance! The cast, crew and director Maggie Balsley should be congratulated on a fantastic opening to their 2018-19 season.
If you haven’t seen the show yet, there’s still time! The Hilltop Players will perform “The Miracle Worker” tonight, Oct. 27, at 7:30 p.m. and tomorrow, Oct. 28, at 3 p.m.
Tickets can be bought at Kelly Theater before the show or online. Make sure to see this inspiring play before it is over!
Original artwork by Mimi Albon