Erie’s Drama Department Stuns Audiences with their Storytelling

Nevaeh Stanesa, Copy Editor/ Senior Staff Writer

Erie High School’s theater department opened their first production this year with four sold out shows for the Miracle Worker!

With 50 students involved in the cast, tech, and pit, the theatre department had its hands full. Especially with a true story that portrays Helen Keller, a deaf and blind woman. Lexi Schindler played the role of Helen Keller and she did so with beauty and grace. Schindler convinced audience that she was not acting and all of it was real. 

As an audience member enters the auditorium an array of slideshows are displayed giving background to this show. Whether it was about Helen Keller or her teacher Annie Sullivan or even life in the 1800s, the mood was set from the beginning. 

Each show seated 70 audience members on stage with the actors, creating a small and intimate setting. The set was simple and understated, creating the feel of a cozy home. Large wooden frames were staged to imitate walls and doors throughout the house. As well as small wooden platforms that housed furniture, indicating separate rooms. The seven person pit was also seated on stage giving another intimate aspect to the overall show. 

After the lights dim, Mikaela Schindler and Jack Laychak entered playing the roles of Helen’s parents. After they quickly realize that from her early years Helen is inflicted deafness and blindness, the show picks up pace quickly. 

Throughout this chilling performance, you see Keller grow up and struggle to live in a home with no discipline or boundaries. After years of struggle, her parents no longer knew what to do and brought in Annie Sullivan, a previously blind woman played by Kelsey McKercher. Sullivan at first struggles to teach Keller any manners due to her previous lack of discipline. As the show goes on you see progress between the two, but not quite enough for Sullivan’s satisfaction. While they are making strides, not everything comes easy. Keller had many fits and tantrums that led to Sullivan finding new ways to teach her a lesson, whether it was pouring water on her head or dragging her out of the room. Both actors shows true emotion and pulled everyone in to every bit of this journey.

When speaking with director Scott Wright, he explained that “This is actually the second time we have done Miracle Worker here…. between that one and this one, night and day.” 

Then going on and explaining how his first time directing this show, it was a typical show and the audience was large and not on stage, compared to this one which was on stage. Wright wanted it to be in an intimate and small setting, which served to make the whole performance that much more gut wrenching and beautiful. Between wonderful high school actors and a beautiful set, this performance captured you into the true story of Helen Keller. 

Cast, tech, pit and Mr. Wright, we congratulate you on four sold out performances as you continue to change lives and open the eyes of your audience.