LONGVIEW (MCT) -- A drama group familiar with the Belcher Center stage will bring the story of Helen Keller and her tutor Annie Sullivan to life Thursday, when they stop in Longview during a four-month long tour.
The Montana Repertory Theatre performed “To Kill a Mockingbird” in 2009, and since that time, Belcher Center Senior Director Cynthia Hellen has looked to bring the group back to the stage.
“They did a fabulous job; it was very well produced,” Hellen said.
The cast and crew will present William Gibson’s “The Miracle Worker,” the Tony Award-winning production that depicts how Keller, deaf and blind since infancy, begins to understand the world with Sullivan’s help.
“Our motto is to tell the great American stories. [‘The Miracle Worker’] is quintessential. It has been around a while and people like ‘Mockingbird;’ people like to hear it every once in a while,” said Greg Johnson, the artistic director for the theater.
Keller was born in 1880 in Alabama and died in 1968.
The play became widely known and critically and popularly successful in 1960; a film version in 1962 won multiple Oscar nominations and awards.
The Montana Repertory Theatre is visiting Longview about half-way through its 17-state tour that began on Jan. 24 and will continue through April.
Hellen said other plays done by theater were not right for the Belcher stage, but that “The Miracle Worker” has been scheduled for more than a year.
“They are represented by an agent, and he knows the type of programs we are interested in,” Hellen said. “He knew this was something good for us, and he let me know about it.”
Johnson said the will resonate with children and adults.
“It’s a story that most everybody knows ... what we have done and what you like to do with a classic story is tell it in a new way,” Johnson said, adding that the director had incorporated media, video to give the play a new slant. “While you may have seen it or read it before, this is a whole new way of looking at it.”
The Theatre is in the midst of performing “great American stories” including classics such as “Bus Stop,” “To Kill a Mockingbird,” “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof” and “Biloxi Blues.”
Johnson, who has served as the theater’s artistic director for 24 years, said the group loves its “Texas swing.”
“We are excited to be back. We find the Texas swing to be one of our favorite swings ... because they are great audiences. They appreciate straight theater,” he said.
The performance will be the second to last season event at the S.E. Belcher Jr. Chapel and Performance Center, with the Masters of Funk Tour closing the season with a performance in April.
Hellen said because the play was running on a school night, it was scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. with exterior doors opening at 6 p.m. and the auditorium opening at 6:30 p.m.
Tickets for the event, available at belchercenter.ticketforce.com, cost from $15 to $38.