`Miracle' is an inspiration

Play: Students present the story of deaf and blind Helen Keller with emotion and energy.

Howard Live

Review

March 18, 2004|By Stephanie Isberg | Stephanie Isberg,MOUNT HEBRON HIGH SCHOOL

A brilliant spotlight illuminated a water pump, standing alone on the darkened stage. This humble fixture remained center stage, a silent testimony to the power of love in the story of Helen Keller and Annie Sullivan presented by Chesapeake High School in its production of The Miracle Worker.

As Helen Keller, Emily Morgan maintained the unseeing stare of a deaf and blind woman throughout the show; she did not react to movement save the touch of her fellow actors. Her intense desire for contact shone through her every movement, however. When she finally made the connection between the water flowing from the pump and Annie forming the word water in sign language on her hand, realization glowed on Morgan's face.

As Keller's teacher, Annie Sullivan, Mallory Laffoon presented a strong opposite for Morgan. Laffoon faced the extraordinary obstacle of creating a relationship with a character that could not respond in a traditional manner. However, she and Morgan formed a bond through their body movements.

The supporting actors created an emotional atmosphere. Jennifer Stiffler as Kate Keller brought great emotion to the production. She was the first to realize Helen could neither see nor hear, and the sorrow in her voice sounded real. She strongly portrayed a mother trying desperately to reach her daughter.

In addition to wonderful actors, the production boasted realistic costumes, sets and props, created entirely by the student cast. The work put into the sets was evident in the little details, such as a sewing box and the framed paintings.

The cast and crew effectively used the stage by setting up the scenery for the Keller house behind a scrim, allowing for different scenes to take place in front of it.

The student director, Erin Williams, deserves a great round of applause. The play was produced without adult input. Williams did a tremendous job casting and encouraging her cast members to give such a powerful performance.

The emotion and energy the cast and crew put into telling this story made it an inspiring experience. For an entirely student-produced play, it was a remarkable achievement and a wonderful tribute to the persistent and optimistic spirits of Helen Keller and Annie Sullivan.

Stephanie Isberg reviewed "The Miracle Worker" for the Baltimore Cappies, a program in which students review high school productions and vote on awards for outstanding performances. Chesapeake High School presented "The Miracle Worker" from March 11 through Saturday.

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