The Pennington Players will tell the heartfelt and powerful story of Helen Keller’s triumph over seemingly insurmountable obstacles in William Gibson’s play “The Miracle Worker” at Mercer County Community College’s Kelsey Theatre. Performances are Fridays, Feb. 1 and 8 at 8 p.m.; Saturdays, Feb. 2 and 9 at 8 p.m.; and Sundays, Feb. 3 and 10 at 2 p.m. Kelsey Theatre is located on the college’s West Windsor campus, 1200 Old Trenton Road. A reception with the cast and crew follows the opening night performance on Feb. 1.
“The Miracle Worker” takes place in Alabama circa 1880, where an illness renders 19-month-old Helen Keller blind, deaf, and consequently mute. Pitied and badly spoiled by her parents, she learns no discipline and grows into an undisciplined, raging child by the age of six. Desperate, the Kellers hire Annie Sullivan to serve as a governess and teacher for their young daughter.
After several fierce battles, Annie requests that the Kellers allow her two weeks alone with Helen. Through perseverance and guile, Annie reaches into Helen's world, bringing her the gift of communication through sign language.
"This play is a journey from darkness to light on many levels, and not just for Helen Keller and Annie Sullivan, but also for the entire cast and the audience," says Director Judi Parrish of West Trenton.
“The Miracle Worker” premiered on Broadway in 1959 starring Patty Duke as Helen Keller and Anne Bancroft as Annie Sullivan. It was later adapted into the famous feature-length film, in which Duke and Bancroft reprised their roles.
The lead role of Annie Sullivan will be played by Jennifer Nasta Zefutie of Cranbury, with 11-year-old Isabel Kinney, also of Cranbury, as Helen. Both actresses are making their Kelsey Theatre debuts. They have spent many hours learning American Sign Language (ASL) to prepare for their parts.
Also featured are Morgan Petronis of Delran as Kate Keller; Moot Davis of Hamilton as Captain Keller; Graham Mazie of Ewing as James Keller; Laurie Hardy of Hamilton as Aunt Ev; Tia Brown of Lawrenceville as Viney; Justin Saintil of West Windsor as Percy; Isis Henderson of Hamilton Square as Martha; and Scott Karlin of Plainsboro as the Doctor and Mr. Anagnos.
Students at the Perkins School for the Blind are being played by Amanda Banks of Princeton, Taylor Buffa of New Egypt, Marissa Marciano of Plainsboro, Julia Patella of Cranbury, and Julia Weingaertner of Princeton Junction. Voiceover roles are being performed by Simon Hamilton of Princeton, Scott Karlin of Plainsboro, Rosie Karlin of Plainsboro, and Kelsey’s own M. Kitty Getlik of Hamilton.
The show is produced by Beverly Kuo-Hamilton of Princeton. Stage manager is Eliza Burwell of Hopewell, with technical direction by Bryan Schendlinger of Langhorne, PA, lighting design by M. Kitty Getlik, costume design by Kathy Slothower of Plainsboro, and properties by Dottie Farina of Hamilton.
In keeping with the theme and subject matter of the play, the Pennington Players are offering the audience the experience of an ASL-interpreted performance at 8 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 9. Select seating is available upon request for those who wish to be closest to the ASL interpreters.
Tickets are $16 for adults, $14 for seniors, and $12 for students and children. For tickets, call the Kelsey Theatre box office at (609) 570-3333, or order online at www.kelseytheatre.net. Kelsey Theatre is wheelchair accessible, with free parking available next to the theater.