Once again, the Corvallis School District Theater Program has put on a wonderful, touching, and magical performance. Starring Sara Schoeffler as Annie Sullivan, Emmaline Westfall/Milla Smith (split role) as Helen Keller, and Maia Gelser as Kate Keller, The Miracle Worker – taking place in the late 1800s – tells the story of how Annie Sullivan, Helen’s teacher, helped Helen reach her full potential of learning as a deaf and blind girl. Hannah Christison, who plays the Teacher’s Aid, says that this is a show that everyone should come to. She says, “It’s a very powerful, moving, story and I think it just teaches a lot about coping with disabilities and family issues. The story is emotional and just really worth coming to watch.” The Miracle Worker is a great play for everyone to watch, and it tells a story in which many resilient women conquer adversity. After falling ill when Helen was a very young child, she was left both blind and deaf. It seemed impossible to her family to provide her a life with any type of real communication and understanding. She acted out against almost everyone, and the only way anyone knew how to calm her down was to give into what she wanted. Finally, when Helen was a young teen, the Kellers hired a tutor, Anne Sullivan. Sullivan, who had previously been blind but had recovered, was convinced that it was possible for Helen to live a normal life, or as normal as possible among the circumstances. She taught Helen right from wrong and while it was difficult for her parents to watch their daughter be disciplined, it ultimately was successful. Helen became able to communicate with others, and lived an extraordinary life thereafter.
The play is packed with action, including several physical fights that occur between Helen and Annie, which, although jarring to watch nowadays, were how children were disciplined in the 1800s. The last ten or so minutes of the performance threw me through a roller coaster of emotions as everything slowly started to come into place for Helen. One of the most miraculous things about this play is its cast: out of the 26 roles, half of them are played by new actors. Two out of the three protagonists had never acted in a CSD show before this one. If acting sounds like fun or something you want to try, here’s some advice from senior Maia Gelser. She says, “Just go for it, it’s terrifying when you first do it but once you get up there, trust yourself, you know what to do, but just let it be and happen the way it does!” Auditions are usually in the fall, so if you’re interested in auditioning make sure and check csdtheaters.com for more information. You can also get tickets online for The Miracle Worker (it closes November 18th). And stay tuned for the spring musical, Beauty and the Beast, which runs February 21 – March 10.