by Richard Lamb—Advance Editor
The return of high school theatre to Rogers City brought tears and laughter to audience members, the cast and even the director over the weekend. “The Miracle Worker,” the story of Helen Keller and her teacher Annie Sullivan, became an artistic success and a hit at the box office. The show drew increased attendance each of the four nights beginning Thursday with 67, Friday with 89, Saturday with 102 and 140 for the Sunday matinee.
Director Julie Riddle said the Rogers City Community Theatre (RCCT) production showed improvement with each night. She said most plays fall into a rhythm beginning with the opening-night jitters and leading into a second show, which is technically better.
“As the weekend progressed, it would have been only natural to see the mistakes, the drops in energy. But they never came. The kids kept working harder. And the shows just kept getting better. Saturday night the cast was very aware that they were missing the winter homecoming dance, scheduled after the show’s date was chosen. But they kept their focus and gave a magnificent performance. Sunday, though backstage there were many oh-no-it’s-over tears, onstage the actors never faltered,” Julie Riddle said.
The cast’s consistent improvement throughout the run of the show spoke much to the young actors’ dedication, director Riddle said.
“To them, this show was not just something to do to pass the time. They were a joyful, enthusiastic team, committed to doing what they were doing to the very best of their abilities,” the director said.
Mallory Ryan portrayed Annie while Abbey Mulka played Helen. Jacob Bruski played Helen’s father while Emmalyn Riddle portrayed Helen’s mother. Cast members included Ashley Nowicki, Sophia Schiepek, Hannah Hentkowski, Bradley Heidemann, Daniel Bielas and Miranda Seiter.
Behind the scenes helpers included Karl W. Heidemann, Val Schalk, Porcha Thompson, Sarah Mulka, Kari Ryan, Abby Muller, Abby Pflug, Isaac Riddle and Noah Hanson.
The storyline of the play took the audience from the hopeless frustration of young Helen Keller’s condition to the joy when her teacher helped her make discoveries that led to language.
“It was a good show. It was a really, really good show. I loved watching those young actors presenting the moving story in such a beautiful way, loved watching the audience laugh and wipe away tears. But most of all, I loved watching the kids grow. It was such a privilege to be present for those moments when they dug inside themselves and discovered something of real substance,” director Riddle proudly said.
RCCT’s next play is already into rehearsals. Lionel Bart’s “Oliver!” is set to hit the local stage April 28-May 7. Other productions planned for this year include “Godspell” Aug. 17-20 and “A County Fair in Da U.P, Yah Sure,” Oct. 27-Nov. 5.