The Hudson Theatre Ensemble of Hoboken, New Jersey is performing a miracle of its own with a spirited revival of William Gibson’s The Miracle Worker, which opened last evening at the Hudson School Performance Space on Park Avenue. For those of you who live in Manhattan, you might want to hop on a bus to this quaint theatre (it’s only a fifteen-minute ride) and check out what this little gem of a company is doing.
Crisply directed by Laurie Brongo and sporting a talented group of actors, this production team manages to breathe some fresh air into the famous stalwart and makes it their own with this moving and involving production. for those that do not know, William Gibson’s award winning play (later an Oscar winning film with the late and dearly missed Anne Bancroft and Patty Duke) unites the stories of two remarkable women: Helen Keller (Phoebe Crego) and her teacher, headstrong Annie Sullivan (Kelly Reeves), a 20-year-old Irish immigrant from Boston. Afflicted at the age of 18 months with a virus now thought to be meningitis, Helen was left blind, deaf, and mute – thus cut off from the world.
Sullivan is engaged by Captain Arthur Keller and his wife Kate to educate Helen who, now at the age of six, is completely indulged by the Keller family. This leads to battle after battle as Helen’s family and Annie are pitted against each other in a struggle to find the best future for her. Captain Keller, played with the correct amounts of Southern pride, chivalry, and a father’s softness by Dave Erbach, would be content to see his out-of-control daughter transformed into a docile, ladylike cipher. Kate Keller advocates for uncovering her child’s potential while, at the same time, trying to protect her from the consequences of that potential. The wonderful Helene Taylor communicates this maternal dilemma with sensitivity and grace.
Within this turbulent quagmire is discord between father and his cynical son, James (a spot on Matt Wisniewski), sending us on an emotional journey of discovery – not only Helen’s, but of all members of the family. Sullivan herself is fighting her own demons, being herself recently cured of blindness and suffering guilt over her lame brother’s death in her care in an asylum.
The real drama of the piece, however, revolves around Annie and Helen as the teacher struggles to break through to her unwilling pupil. The luminous Kelly Reeves imbues Sullivan with a gritty, Irish brashness (Think Maureen O’Hara in The Quiet Man), but at the same time gives full measure to the ghosts that haunt this woman, revealing the scars and vulnerabilities that lurk beneath her thorny exterior. In the very complex role of Helen Keller, young Phobe Crego expertly demonstrates the ability to communicate a character’s impulses and emotions without uttering a word.
Rounding out an impressive ensemble cast are Florence Pape, delightful as the meddlesome Aunt Ev, Iloire Blanos, charming as the maid Viney, and scene stealer Timothy J. Cox, top notch in his all too brief appearance as the kind and benevolent Mr. Anagnos. Director Brongo and her crew are to be commended for delivering a crisp, well-crafted, and beautifully performed show that left this viewer wanting to see more from Hudson Theatre Ensemble.
The Miracle Worker closes on April 15th.
The Hudson Theatre Ensemble presents The Miracle Worker by William Gibson:
Location & Directions: Hudson School Performance Space 601 Park Avenue (6th & Park) Hoboken, NJ
Cast: Iloire K. Blanos; Grace Conrad; Timothy J. Cox; Phoebe Crego; Dave Erbach; Morgan Fields; Chris Martinez; George Molshvili; Florence Pape; Hannah Plotka; Kelly Reeves; Violet Stanziani; Helene Taylor; Thomas Tyburski; Matt Wisniewski
Dates & Times:
Friday 4/6/07 at 8PM, Saturday 4/7/07 at 8PM
Friday 4/13/07 at 8PM, Saturday 4/14/07 at 8PM
Matinees: Saturday 4/14/07 & Sunday 4/15/07 at 3PM
Tickets & Reservations:
Tickets are $15 general admission; $10 seniors; $8 students
To reserve tickets, call 201-377-7014 or reservations@HudsonTheatreEnsemble.com
Producer/Artistic Director: Diana London
Director of Development/Publicity: Florence Pape
Director: Laurie Brongo
Technical Director: Justin McCormick
Stage Manager: Sheila Phalon
Assistant Stage Manager: Pamela A. Campbell
Lighting/Sound/Playbill: Justin McCormick
Graphics (POSTER) /Webmaster: Susan Newman Design Inc.
Photography: John Crittenden
Sound & Light Technician: Damian Pizzo
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This program is made possible in part by funds from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts/Department of State, a partner agency of the National Endowment for the Arts and by funds from the National Endowment for the Arts, administered by the Hudson County Office of Cultural & Heritage Affairs, Thomas A. DeGise, County Executive, and The Board of Chosen Freeholders.
Please visit The Hudson Theatre Ensemble for more information.