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July 19, 2005 > A miracle at work at Broadway West

A miracle at work at Broadway West

by Heidi Leung

Broadway West is presenting the Miracle Worker, a drama about Annie Sullivan's first breakthrough in communicating with Helen Keller, a blind and deaf girl who lived in Alabama circa 1880. She wasn't born blind and deaf, rather, a fever that struck at the age of 2 caused her disability. Her mother, Kate, only realized this after Helen stopped responding to dinner bells and didn't move her eyes when she waved her hand in the child's face.

Helen became an ill-tempered child, constantly throwing temper tantrums and eating food with her hands from other's plates. Relatives thought she should be placed in a mental institution, but her mother didn't agree and sought help from a specialist named Anagnos at the Pratt Institute for the Blind. A former pupil, Annie Sullivan, who had experienced blindness but whose vision had been surgically restored, was dispatched to teach Helen how to communicate. On April 5, 1887, the notorious "water pump incident" occurred. This "miracle" proved that being blind and deaf was not a hopeless condition.

Broadway West's rendition of the Miracle Worker is touching and enjoyable. Both Ariel Aronica (Helen Keller) and Michele Leavy (Annie Sullivan) give stunning performances. Most impressive was young Aronica's acting as a blind and deaf girl - she is neither. Leavy gives a convincing performance of a woman with a strong undying spirit regardless of past hardships. Mary Glade, who plays Kate Keller (Helen's mother), makes the audience feel her heart break as she watches her daughter's frustration. Todd Wright, as Captain Keller (Helen's father) also shines in his role as a stern yet caring father and husband. Jack Starr, (James Keller, Helen's half brother), is impressive because though his role isn't as substantial as the others, he adds humor to an otherwise serious and dramatic story.

Broadway West's troupe does justice to this dramatic and heart-wrenching story that calls for consummate acting skills. The Miracle Worker offers life lessons for all ages.

Miracle Worker
Thurs. - Sat., 8 p.m. & Sun., 1 p.m.
July 14 - Aug. 6
Broadway West Theatre
4000-B Bay St., Fremont
(510) 683-9218

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