The Miracle Worker at the Woodland Opera House tells the story of Helen Keller.

The Miracle Worker; 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 2 p.m. Sunday; $7-$25. Woodland Opera House, 340 Second Street in Woodland; (530) 666-9617; Through November 9.
Rated 4.0

This play about the education of the blind, deaf and mute girl Helen Keller is a certifiable American classic. The original 1959 Broadway production featured Anne Bancroft as teacher Annie Sullivan, and the teenage Patty Duke as Keller (Duke later got an Oscar for the movie version). Because this story of a girl’s transition from “wild child” to literate adult continues to fascinate audiences nationwide, the play is periodically revived locally (the Sacramento Theatre Company did it in 2012, for example).

The play is set in an affluent residence in Alabama during the late 1800s, and fortuitously, this current production is staged in a thoroughly appropriate venue: the beautifully restored Woodland Opera House (dating from 1895, modeled on a 19th century English music hall). The historic venue adds something special to this well-crafted community production.

Actress Patricia Glass has played Annie Sullivan before with the Florissant Valley Theatre of the Deaf in St. Louis, and Glass works will with Emily-Jo Seminoff (as Helen Keller). Their teacher-pupil relationship is very credible, and the highly physical scene involving Keller’s fit of temper at the dinner table is pretty spectacular.

Director Dean Shellenberger keeps the story on mission, tending to the secondary family conflicts (like the difficult father-son relationship that serves as counterbalance to the main story about Helen’s remarkable education). Shellenberger also retains the episode late in the play in which Helen hugs a loveable dog—and as is always the case, the dog (named Lacey, part lab, part golden retriever) steals the scene.