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Swift Creek Mill Theatre The Miracle Worker

By • Jan 26th, 2014 • Category: Reviews
The Miracle Worker
Swift Creek Mill Theatre: (Info) (Web)
Swift Creek Mill Theatre, Colonial Heights, VA
Through February 15th
1:55 with intermission
$38 (Dinner Extra)
Reviewed January 25th, 2013

As I have said before, it is tough when reviewing some plays to try to block out prior iconic performances. When older people like me think of The Miracle Worker it is hard not to immediately think of Patty Duke and Anne Bancroft. Putting those thoughts aside, Swift Creek Mill presents a capable and interesting production.

While it is factual, educational and visually appealing, the production lacked the emotional attachments and dysfunction between the cast members that make the story so compelling. The individual performances were strong, but in a story where the family dynamics are quite complicated; the performers didn’t seem to quite gel together.

The role of Helen Keller is alternated between two young actresses. On the date I attended, Ellie Martin was mesmerizing as the young deaf, blind and mute child. She was especially convincing when Helen would have a tantrum or try to find ways to grunt and communicate.

Audra Honaker was spunky, energetic and convincing as Annie Sullivan. Her nervous energy and comedic timing worked well in portraying Helen’s young teacher. Tom Width was strong and sensitive both as Helen’s father, Captain Keller; and as the production’s director and scenic designer. Along with Lighting Designer Joe Doran he created a visually appealing presentation, which worked especially well in momentary freezes framed in spotlights that created portrait like tableaus. However, scene changes with the elaborate set sometimes slowed the pace of the production.

Width also used Swift Creek Mill’s new sound system well. Trains, crying babies and hoof beats sounded as if they were right in the room. Maura Lynch Cravey’s costumes also worked well to enhance the visual appeal of the production.

As a teacher and special educator, I would recommend this production especially for families and schools as it beautifully brings the story of Helen Keller to life.

Photo Gallery

Ellie Martin as Helen Keller and Audra Honaker as Annie Sullivan Audra Honaker as Annie Sullivan and Isabella Cipollina as Helen Keller
Ellie Martin as Helen Keller and Audra Honaker as Annie Sullivan
Audra Honaker as Annie Sullivan and Isabella Cipollina as Helen Keller
Ellie Martin as Helen Keller, Addison Bills as Percy and Audra Honaker as Annie Sullivan Audra Honaker as Annie Sullivan and Ellie Martin as Helen Keller
Ellie Martin as Helen Keller, Addison Bills as Percy and Audra Honaker as Annie Sullivan
Audra Honaker as Annie Sullivan and Ellie Martin as Helen Keller
Sharlyn Bailey as Viney and Ellie Martin as Helen Keller
Sharlyn Bailey as Viney and Ellie Martin as Helen Keller

Photos by Robyn O’Neill

The Cast

  • Helen Keller: Isabella Cipolina or Ellie Martin
  • Captain Keller: Tom Width
  • Kate Keller: Lisa Kotula
  • Annie Sullivan: Audra Honaker
  • Doctor: Kevin Grantz
  • Viney: Sharalyn Bailey
  • Percy: Donathan Patrick Arnold (Addison Bills-understudy)
  • James Keller: Jesse Mattes
  • Mr. Anagnos: Paul Deiss

The Crew

  • Direction and Scenic Design: Tom Width
  • Light Design: Joe Doran
  • Costumes: Maura Lynch Cravey
  • Stage Manager: Tom Width
  • Assistant Stage Manager/Properties: Paul Deiss
  • Light/Sound Board Op: Becky Lussier/Weston Corey
  • Set Crew: Jesse Mattes, Cory Williams, Eugene Mason, Noah Downs

Disclaimer: Swift Creek Mill Theatre provided two complimentary show (not dinner) tickets to ShowBizRadio for this review.

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is by day a Special Education teacher, teaching History, Science and drama to Middle and High School students in a private Day School in Stafford. He has degrees in Educational Media and Special Education. He is also a part time Radio News Anchor and occasional actor in the Richmond area. Bruce is a native of New Jersey and spent most of his "adult" life in Upstate New York, where he started and ran a national award winning youth theater and cable television program for over 10 years. He has lived in Virginia since 2002, and in Caroline County since 2005, where he is active in many community groups; including serving on the Board of Caroline's Promise.

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