BEACON FALLS — Woodland Theatre is bringing the story of Helen Keller to life with its production of The Miracle Worker.
Director Susan Cinoman said the play, which is about a young girl who is born deaf, blind and mute, is a challenging play to do.
“It deals with special needs and how, as a society and even within a family, we deal with people who are a little bit different than ourselves,” Cinoman said.
However, Cinoman said, the actors have risen to meet than challenge.
“It’s going really, really well,” said Cinoman prior to rehearsal earlier this month. “It’s been very rewarding, and I think it’s going to be a great production. I really do.”
Senior Erika Pellegrino, 17, who plays Helen Keller, said the cast works well together.
“We all work really well together so it’s fun doing rehearsals together as a group,” Pellegrino said. “I think it’s going to be really interesting because we’ve been working really hard, so hopefully that shows in the production.”
Senior Catherine Pelkey, 17, plays Anne Sullivan who has traveled to the Keller’s home to teach her to be able to communicate with the world.
“It’s really interesting to play this part because normally it’s a completely made up character, while this is biographical and you have to stay true to it. So it’s a challenge but it’s also very fun,” Pelkey said.
Pelkey said one of the more difficult parts of the play has been the different accents the characters have to use. The Keller’s lived in Alabama, so most of the characters speak with a southern accent.
Junior Robert Weiner, 17, who plays Capt. Arthur Keller, Helen’s father, said the rehearsals have been going well, despite some scheduling conflicts interfering with rehearsals.
“Sure there have been a few speed bumps every now and then. But, as always, we try to find the right thing. We eventually work things out and perform a really good show,” Weiner said.
The play, which has been in production since 1959 and made into a movie in 1962, piqued the interest of many students at the high school.
“We had a record number of kids audition. We had 46 kids audition. We’re using 32 of them for the play. It’s a big cast,” Cinoman said.
In addition to the number of students that auditioned for the play, there is another first with this play, Cinoman said.
“We have a dog in the show, an actual trained dog. So that’s kind of cool. This is the first live animal on stage here at Woodland,” Cinoman said.
Cinoman said the quality of the acting, which has progressed over the years at the high school, is likely to bring people to see this play.
“I think, because of the training the kids get, and the level of instruction that’s available here, that would be fun for audiences to be able to see that level of acting at a high school level,” Cinoman said.
Weiner added, “Not only do we try to do famous shows, we always give the best effort we can. As long we try our best, we give out a really good performance, and work hard, that’s all that really matters.”
Cinoman felt the subject matter will also draw audiences.
“The subject matter of the play is fascinating. Helen Keller is a really brilliant and dynamic person who overcame horrible obstacles in her life. She really serves as quite a role model for youth and for everybody. We all have problems and things we’re dealing with every day, and here’s someone who couldn’t speak, couldn’t hear, lived in a world of silence, and she went to go on to Radcliffe College,” Cinoman said.
The Miracle Worker will be presented Dec. 6 and Dec. 7 at 7 p.m. Woodland Regional High School, 135 Back Rimmon Road. Tickets are $12 for adults and $5 for students and are available at the door.