The Miracle Worker, which premieres at the Southampton Cultural Center (SCC) on Friday, April 27, is an adaptation of William Gibson’s 1959 play. With Joan Lyons directing and Bonnie Grice producing, these two women tell the story of Helen Keller and her teacher, Annie Sullivan. The production premieres in collaboration with Boots on the Ground, a theater company founded in 2016 by Grice. Showings will be held throughout the weekend.
“As a child, I saw the movie featuring Patty Duke and Anne Bancroft and was haunted by their story,” said Grice. “Later I had the honor of interviewing Bancroft, who confided that the role of Annie Sullivan was her favorite and, I knew at that moment, I had to bring the play to life.”
The play begins with a one-year-old Helen Keller, who at this time contracts a fever that results in a loss of her hearing and sight. The story continues with Helen at seven years of age, who could be best characterized as a tantrum-prone and rambunctious child. It is at this point that Annie Sullivan and Helen’s lives intersect when Sullivan, who is half-blind, is hired as Helen’s governess and teacher. The play follows the relationship that develops between these two women and the measurable impact that Sullivan had on Keller.
Grice shared that she was responsible for researching the costumes and ensuring that they were true to the period; she even hand-made several pieces. She also helped spearhead a fundraising campaign that raised $9,000. The production is also funded, in part, by support from the Southampton Lions Club, The North Sea Lions Club, Bob Grisnik of Southrifty Drug, John Raimondi, Samantha Bruce Benjamin, and Daniel Becker.
Emma Suhr, a 10-year-old, plays Helen Keller and Tina Marie Realmuto plays Annie Sullivan. The cast also includes Daniel Becker as Captain Keller, Deyo Trowbridge as James, Gerri Wilson as Aunt Ev, Josephine Wallace as Viney, and Bonnie Grice as Katie. The play has a running time of 70 minutes with no intermission. In addition to the evening and matinee showings throughout the weekend (Friday at 7 p.m.; Saturday at 7 p.m.; Sunday at 2 p.m.), there will be three weekday performances offered to Southampton elementary and middle school students.
Boots on the Ground was founded by Bonnie Grice, the host/producer of The Electic Café on WPPB-FM, a Long Island NPR affiliate. The theater company dedicates itself to telling the stories of Long Island, with focus on late Victorian and Edwardian eras.
Tickets to The Miracle Worker are $20 for general admission and $5 for children aged 12 and under.
Southampton Cultural Center is located at 25 Pond Lane in Southampton. For more information, bootsonthegroundtheater.com or scc-arts.org.