The Miracle Worker

| 28 Sep 2011 | 03:01

    High Point students put on bravura performance of classic play Opening night at High Point High’s glittering production of William Gibson’s award-winning 1962 play “The Miracle Worker” brought a stunned audience to its feet. The word most often heard in the auditorium was “unforgettable.” “The actors did a fantastic, remarkable job,” said Dr. Thomasina Gephard, in whose office Cathy Coloccia and her sister Victoria volunteer. Cathy plays the role of Helen Keller’s mother, Kate, and Victoria assists with the lighting. The play, which covers the month when the young teacher Annie Sullivan reached into Helen Keller’s silence to bring her the gift of language, played to a packed auditorium. Two more performances took place on Saturday and Sunday to equally enthusiastic reviews. “I’ve waited 12 years to find the right combination of students to play these difficult roles,” said theater and chorus director teacher Theresa Riccardi, a graduate of Seton Hall’s music program. “This was the year to do it. “The students themselves had a chance to discover the beauty of the piece of this timeless story. I couldn’t be prouder.” Riccardi also praised the High Point administration for being so supportive of the arts. The entire cast exemplified Helen Keller’s famous saying: “We can do anything we want if we stick to it long enough. In an interview on the day of the opening performance, the cast said, “We’ve been working together and relying on one another. We are ready. “At first I was frightened of the role,” said Jessica Hardy, who plays the role of Helen. “I had to learn to create the character through movement and expression. It was challenging and scary. But Helen was a tormented, vibrant spirit, but she also was funny, and the process of thinking my way into her mind has been fascinating.” Caitlin O’Neil described her role as Annie Sullivan as life changing. “She’s so strong that it’s shocking,” said O’Neil, “she won’t take no for an answer. Playing Annie Sullivan’s is exhausting and exhilarating, especially the scene at the pump, when somehow the mystery of language was revealed to Keller.” Jesse Lerch, who plays Captain Keller, described the double challenge of trying to learn an Alabama accent, and be natural in the role of an old-fashioned Southern gentleman. Cathy Coloccia said of her role as Kate Keller, Helen’s mother, “I was very nervous about playing such a tricky, sensitive role, but Kate is such a strong, interesting character.” Joe Webb, who plays Helen’s half-brother, James said that he tried to play the role naturally, as a son who is trying to gain his father’s respect, and who pretends not to care, but does care deeply. Accolades also go the student set designers, who scavenged, borrowed and bought the furniture and other household appointments to create a believable recreation of the Keller’s 1820s Tuscumbia, Alabama home, Ivy Green. Drama teacher Theresa Riccardi and her students dedicated their presentation of the play to Anne Bancroft, whose Academy-award winning performance as Annie Sullivan in the 1962 film version of the play created the role. “Bancroft was a remarkable craftswoman. The role she created still stands as one of the most positive examples of the art of teaching,” said Riccardi. Bancroft died on June 6, 2005. A made-for-television version of the play was broadcast in 2000.