The Miracle Worker will come to a New York City stage when Queens Theatre features the William Gibson work in an original production. Directed by Brant Russell and starring Ayla Schwartz as Helen Keller and Betsy Hogg as Anne Sullivan, the play will be performed from May 12 to 21.
In its 1959 Broadway debut, The Miracle Worker starred Elmhurst, Queens native Patty Duke as Keller, who lived in a prison of silence and darkness until her parents found Anne Sullivan, played by Anne Bancroft. (The two also starred together in the 1962 film.) Sullivan, the dedicated teacher, helped Keller achieve great heights, despite significant obstacles. As written by Gibson, the play portrays Sullivan as she struggles to reach Helen while confronting the difficulties in Helen's family: a domineering father, a heartbroken mother and a resentful son.
"The Miracle Worker is the true story of two inspirational figures," said Taryn Sacramone, Executive Director of Queens Theatre. "It is about the power of motivation and our will to connect with other people. We know our audiences will be moved by this production."
Betsy Hogg (rhymes with vogue) started acting at the age of nine in Bye Bye Birdie and moved on to the National Tour of Show Boat, with Len Cariou, Cloris Leachman, and Stephen Bogardus. After roles on Broadway, film and television she graduated from Northwestern University and recently resumed her acting career.
Ayla Schwartz, a fourth-grade student from New Jersey's Watchung Elementary School has performed Off-Broadway in Madeline's Christmas. She has also acted in local productions, including School of Rock and How to Eat Like a Child.
Keller was born without disability, but was left both deaf and blind by an illness (believed to be meningitis or scarlet fever) at 19 months old. She became an author and political activist who was the first completely sight and hearing impaired person to earn a bachelor of arts degree. Throughout her adult life, Keller campaigned for women's suffrage and workers' rights, among other causes.
Queens Theatre is supported by Season Sponsors Bank of America, Con Edison, Delta Air Lines, and the NYC Department of Cultural Affairs. Additional support is provided by the Howard Gilman Foundation, the Shubert Foundation, the Lily Auchincloss Foundation, the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs and the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and the New York State Legislature.
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