The J presents ‘Miracle Worker’


Tony Award play “THE MIRACLE WORKER” brought to life at The J’s White Theatre;

New live captioning system premieres in metro


[/media-credit] Jessica Franz who portrays Annie Sullivan in The Jewish Community Center White Theatre production of the classic “THE MIRACLE WORKER,” spells out the word “water” to a young Helen Keller, portrayed by local Shawnee Mission South High School student Audrey Hartwell. The powerful Tony Award-winning play runs March 17-25 at The White Theatre.

A young girl trapped inside her own world unable to see, hear or speak goes through a miraculous transformation when her bleak world is unlocked through the sheer will and determination of her extraordinary young teacher.  This story comes to life in THE MIRACLE WORKER, William Gibson’s powerful play about Helen Keller and her teacher Annie Sullivan, which will be presented by The Lewis and Shirley White Theatre at the Jewish Community Center (The J) for only five public performances March 17-25. Evening performances will take place March 17, 22 and 24 at 7:30 p.m., with 2 p.m. matinee performances on March 18 and March 25. A special school performance is set for 9 a.m. Wednesday, March 21. Interested schools should contact The White Theatre Box Office at (913) 327-8054.

Winner of the Tony Award for Best Play (1960), many recall the powerful film version of THE MIRACLE WORKER with Patty Duke portraying Helen and Anne Bancroft in the role of her teacher. The J’s THE MIRACLE WORKER features an all-local cast with Shawnee Mission South High School Junior Audrey Hartwell in the title role of Helen. In addition to her dramatic talents, Audrey brings an extra degree of authenticity to her portrayal because she herself uses hearing aids. Veteran Director Bill Christie leads The J’s production of THE MIRACLE WORKER, which is a family affair for Joel and Tina Morrison and their two young children, Elliot and Abby, all of whom are in the cast. The company also includes siblings Reagan and Eleana Lewis.

This production of THE MIRACLE WORKER also highlights The J’s open-captioning system, believed to be the first of its kind in use in the metro area. This cutting-edge system enhances theatrical productions for those who are deaf or hard of hearing by providing live captions as the production unfolds. A transcriber provides live captioning via a feed from The J sound system. Captioning appears in large white type on a black background displayed on 72-inch screens placed on either side of the stage. Patrons also have the option of reading the captions on their smartphones.

“We’re especially proud to be able to offer this inclusive technology that will allow many more audience members, regardless of their different abilities, to enjoy this show about overcoming adversity and breaking down barriers,” said Keith Wiedenkeller, Director of Arts + Culture at the J, who serves as Managing Director for The White Theatre.  “We’ve been testing this open captioning capability for some time now, and it seems only right to be able to offer it as a regular amenity for this show.”  Wiedenkeller said that while many other venues offer closed captioning that only the individual with the device can see, The White Theatre is the only venue in the metro area to offer open captioning, which is preferred by many in the community.  Wiedenkeller said for this show only, every single performance will offer the captioning service.

The Harry L. and Elizabeth K. Jacobs Fund for Innovative Programming has provided support for the initial launch of the J’s open captioning system.

Tickets for THE MIRACLE WORKER are $23 for the general public, $16 for J members and $14 for students. Group discounts are also available, and there is special pricing for the morning school performance on Wednesday, March 21.   For tickets and reservations for all shows, please contact the White Theatre Box Office at The J at (913) 327-8054, email, purchase your tickets online at, or visit the box office in person from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. weekdays or one and a half hours prior to performance.

The White Theatre is located in the Jewish Community Campus, 5801 W. 115th St., in Overland Park, Kansas.



(Role, performer, city of residence)

Helen Keller: Audrey Hartwell, Overland Park
Anne Sullivan: Jessica Franz, Overland Park
Capt. Keller: Joel Morrison, Lee’s Summit
Kate Keller: Tina Morrison, Lee’s Summit
James Keller: Roan Ricker, Kansas City, MO
Aunt Ev: Meghann Deveroux, Shawnee
Viney: Sarah Montoya, Blue Springs, MO
Percy: Elliot Morrison, Lee’s Summit
Martha: Abby Morrison, Lee’s Summit
Blind Girl / Female Understudy: Allison Nissley-Kansas City, MO
Blind Girls: Eleana and Reagan Lewis-Gardner, KS
Doctor / Anagnos: Don Leonard, Olathe

Belle, the family dog: Bandit Ras

 About the Lewis & Shirley White Theatre

The non-profit Lewis & Shirley White Theatre, built in 2005, is a 500-seat, state-of-the-art facility, featuring the latest amenities in terms of seating, sound and lighting technology, and regularly hosts a mix of top talent from the region and around the world.  Called “the best kept secret” in Kansas City’s theatre scene, The White Theatre’s mission is to provide enriching, thought-provoking entertainment that builds on Jewish cultural values, enhancing wellness, meaning and joy for people of all cultural backgrounds.


About “The J”

Established more than 100 years ago, the Jewish Community Center of Greater Kansas City—The J, provides a warm welcome to families of all backgrounds. The J’s all-in-one hub for health, learning and well-being elevates the lives of the community and its members with programs of excellence in fitness, sports, theatre, arts + culture, senior adult programming and youth services including summer camps and child development. Everyone can “live up” at The J, located in Overland Park, Kansas, and at

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