The AndyGram

Saturday, Nov 22nd

You are here: Home Theatre Reviews & Features 2009-10 Reviews Broadway Review: THE MIRACLE WORKER
Sunday, 14 March 2010 18:22

Broadway Review: THE MIRACLE WORKER

Written by 

Alison Pill and Abigaile Breslin in THE MIRACLE WORKER
Alison Pill and Abigail Breslin in The Miracle Worker
Photo: Joan Marcus
The producers, director and set designer of The Miracle Worker owe their actors an apology. It is due to decisions they made that make this production dead on arrival. Why on earth would you take a play where one character doesn't have any lines, where the audience is reliant upon being able to see facial gestures, and stage that play in the round?

Add to that the fact that the actors are forced to deal with furniture with cables attached to it. The dining room table and its chair in the center of the stage are attached to a pallet that flies as a single unit. The chairs can't be pulled out when actors need to sit at the table. This is all starting to sound like a setup for a bad Helen Keller joke but sadly it's true.

At one point Annie Sullivan, played by Alison Pill is fighting with Helen, played by Abigail Bresland trying to get her to sit at the table. After she gets Helen seated she tries to sit next to her but has no choice but to stand on the chair and drop down into the chair from above. It's absurd.

Director Kate Whoriskey pulls admirable performances from her actors but has allowed Tony Award winning set designer Derek McLane to hamstring the actors as they try and act around this marionette furniture. As if that weren't bad enough, there are doors that come up through traps in the stage floor to represent the doorway to the Sullivan home and to Helen's bedroom. Any of the scenes that took place at the dining room table at center-stage required me to lean back and forth to see on either side of this door frame, most annoying.

Jennifer Morrison, Abigail Breslin and Alison Pill in THE MIRACLE WORKER

Jennifer Morrison, Abigail Breslin and Alison Pill in The Miracle Worker
Photo: Joan Marcus

This production of The Miracle Worker marks the first time the play has returned to Broadway since its debut fifty years ago. After seeing it, I understand why. It wasn't a great play then, it isn't a great play now. The characters are actually caricatures of characters. When that moment comes at the end of the play when Helen finally realizes what Sullivan has been doing with her hands all this time, the moment falls flat.
In case you've been under a rock somewhere, The Miracle Worker tells the story of young Helen Keller who loses both sight and hearing at an early age due to a then unknown illness now thought to be scarlet fever or meningitis. Annie Sullivan has been assigned to work with her to try and communicate and teach her. The play culminates after just a month of working with her when she is able to get Helen to understand the corelation between the signing in her hand and the object it describes, in this case water. Sullivan and Keller ultimately spent 49 years together as teacher, nanny and ultimately companion.

Ms. Pill and Ms. Breslind in their respective roles give outstanding performances. In his Broadway debut, Matthew Modine as the angry Captain Keller handles the role adroitly. Jennifer Morrison is Kate Keller, Helen's cloistering mother, who dutifully clings to her daughter's status quo rather than confront her to make her life better. Elizabeth Franz is the plucky Aunt Ev and Tobias Segal is Captain Keller's angry and pent up son from a previous marriage.

While I'm not sure The Miracle Worker ever would have been a box-office blockbuster it certainly could have been a lot more than it is.

{sharethis}

Buy Tickets

Read the full production credits at the Internet Broadway Database.
Last modified on Saturday, 15 May 2010 14:37

Now Playing On Broadway

More... Bullets Over Broadway    

Bullets Over Broadway

Bullets Over Broadway tells the story of an aspiring young playwright (Zach Braff) newly arrived on Broadway in 1920’s New York who is forced to cast a mobster's (Vincent Pastore)…

More...
More... Cabaret    

Cabaret

Based on Christopher Isherwood's The Berlin Stories, the musical is the story of Cliff, an American writer who comes to Berlin at the dawn of the Hitler era. He falls…

More...
More... Once    

Once

On the streets of Dublin, an Irish musician (Guy) and a Czech immigrant (Girl) are drawn together by their shared love of music. Over the course of one fateful week,…

More...
More... Chicago    

Chicago

Set amidst the razzle-dazzle decadence of the 1920s, CHICAGO is the story of Roxie Hart, a housewife and nightclub dancer who murders her lover after he threatens to walk out…

More...
More... If / Then    

If / Then

On the verge of turning 40, Elizabeth moves back to New York City, the ultimate city of possibility, intent on a fresh start - new home, new friends, and hopes…

More...
More... Wicked    

Wicked

Wicked tells the incredible untold story of anunlikely friendship between two girls who first meet as Sorcery Students at Shiz University: the blonde and very popular Glinda and a misunderstood…

More...
More... Cinderella, Rodgers and Hammerstein's    

Cinderella, Rodgers and Hammerstein's

Rodgers & Hammerstein classic television production premieres on Broadway this spring.  It adds songs from the duo's catalog and adds a new twist to an old tale! Songs include “In…

More...
More... Pippin    

Pippin

Royal heir Pippin is spurred on by a mysterious group of performers to embark on a death-defying journey to find his “corner of the sky.”  The original production of PIPPIN,…

More...
More... Realistic Joneses, The    

Realistic Joneses, The

What do you really know about your neighbors? Toni Collette, Michael C. Hall, Tracy Letts and Marisa Tomei invite you to find out. Hailed by the New York Times as…

More...
More... Country House, The    

Country House, The

Inspired by Chekhov's pastoral comedies, this witty and compelling new play provides a piercing look at a family of performers coming to terms with the roles they play in each…

More...
More... Rock of Ages (at Helen Hayes)    

Rock of Ages (at Helen Hayes)

In 1987 on the Sunset Strip, a small-town girl met a big-city rocker, and in L.A.’s most famous rock club, they fell in love to the greatest songs of the…

More...
More... Mamma Mia!    

Mamma Mia!

The infectious music of ABBA provides the framework for a romp through the preparations of an unusual wedding.

More...
More... Beautiful - The Carole King Musical    

Beautiful - The Carole King Musical

Beautiful tells the inspiring true story of Carole King’s remarkable rise to stardom from being part of a chart-topping songwriting team with her husband Gerry Goffin, to her relationship with…

More...
More... Phantom of the Opera, The    

Phantom of the Opera, The

Andrew Lloyd Webber's smash musicalization of the Gaston Leroux novel won the 1988 Tony Award for Best Musical and is now the longest-running show in Broadway history.

More...
More... Motown: The Musical    

Motown: The Musical

Motown: The Musical is the real story of the one-of-a-kind sound that hit the airwaves in 1959 and changed our culture forever. This exhilarating show charts Motown Founder Berry Gordy's…

More...
More... Kinky Boots    

Kinky Boots

Charlie Price has suddenly inherited his father’s shoe factory, which is on the verge of bankruptcy. Trying to live up to his father’s legacy and save his family business, Charlie…

More...
More... Book of Mormon, The    

Book of Mormon, The

The Book of Mormon tells the story of two young Mormon missionaries sent off to spread the word in a dangerous part of Uganda. Their tale is told alongside the…

More...
More... A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder    

A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder

When Monty Navarro, a disinherited relative of the rich and powerful D’Ysquith clan, learns he’s ninth in line to inherit the earldom, he sets out to secure his future by,…

More...
More... Jersey Boys    

Jersey Boys

Jersey Boys tells the rags-to-riches story of one of the greatest successes in pop music history. Go behind the music of Frankie Valli & the Four Seasons, and meet four…

More...
More... Matilda The Musical    

Matilda The Musical

MATILDA is the story of an extraordinary little girl who decides that despite a bad beginning filled with rotten parents, a terrifying school and a vicious head mistress, her story is…

More...
More... Lion King    

Lion King

Julie Taymor's acclaimed staging of the Disney animated film has been hailed as a Broadway landmark. The story focuses on a young lion cub's personal journey toward his destiny as…

More...
Frontpage Slideshow | Copyright © 2006-2012 JoomlaWorks Ltd.