March 23 2016 03:50 PM

Tireless actresses power ‘The Miracle Worker’

Lucia Vecchio (left) and Kelsey Venter in The Miracle Worker
Photo by John Howard

Ronda Rousey and Holly Holm may have expended less energy in the ring than Kelsey Venter and Lucia Vecchio do on stage in Lamb’s Players Theatre’s production of William Gibson’s The Miracle Worker. Venter, as indefatigable teacher Anne Sullivan, and Vecchio, as the deaf, dumb and blind Helen Keller, take physicality to incredible heights in this chilling 95 minutes directed by Robert Smyth.

The characters on the periphery of Anne’s struggle to extricate Helen from her shell—James Keller (Jason Heil), his wife Kate (Cynthia Gerber), his son James (Charles Evans Jr.) and the housekeeper Viney (Yolanda Franklin) represent the purely emotional (in other words, caring but also enabling) side of Helen’s life, leaving the heavy lifting to the indomitable Anne. These supporting performances are fine, but Venter and Vecchio could carry this often unnerving drama completely by themselves. The fight choreography of Jordan Miller must be acknowledged along with the actresses’ impressive stamina. The Miracle Worker works hard to demonstrate the resolve of human beings in extraordinary circumstances.

The Miracle Worker runs through April 10 at Lamb’s Players Theatre in Coronado. $24-$72;

In college did you ever have that eccentric but brilliant professor whose energy and borderline wackiness made even the densest of lectures entertaining and educational? If so, expect a sense of déjà vu if you’re in the audience for the San Diego Rep’s return of D.W. Jacobs’ R. Buckminster Fuller: The History (and Mystery) of the Universe. This prodigious one-man show starring Ron Campbell had its world premiere at the Rep almost exactly 16 years ago. In the interim, it’s been staged all over the country and as far away as Poland.

While the show is way longer than it needs to be and tries to answer far too many questions, it’s a formidable turn for Campbell as the quirky but brilliant Fuller, whose vision of “Spaceship Earth” and the universe beyond is pop legend. With its high concepts and Utopian sensibilities, this is a thinking-person’s antidote for the dumbed-down Donald Trump era.

R. Buckminster Fuller: The History (and Mystery) of the Universe runs through April 3 on the San Diego Repertory Theatre’s Lyceum Stage, downtown. $33 and up.


Rope: A new Western musical about a legendary hangman who retires from public executions much to the chagrin of his promoter wife. Written by local playwright Mark Sickman, it is playing now through April 3 at the Tenth Avenue Theatre in the Gaslamp.

Rain: This new musical based on a short story by Somerset Maugham centers on a missionary, a doctor and their wives who meet a lovable prostitute in ’20s Western Samoa. Directed by Barry Edelstein, it opens March 24 at the Old Globe Theatre in Balboa Park.

Seussical: A family-friendly musical where all of the characters of Dr. Seuss share the stage at the same time. Presented by Star Repertory Theatre, it opens for five performances March 24 at the California Center for the Arts in Escondido.


WaistWatchers The Musical: A musical parody about four women obsessing over diet, work out regimens, plastic surgery and sex in their search for self-love. Presented by San Diego Repertory Theatre, it runs through March 27 at the Lyceum Space Theatre in the Gaslamp.

Blithe Spirit: Noel Coward’s comedy deals with a writer having to deal with two wives when the first one returns from the after-life to haunt him. It runs through April 2 at OnStage Playhouse in Chula Vista.

R. Buckminster Fuller: The History (and Mystery) of the Universe: A return engagement of the one-man-show about a spaceship captain and the audience is part of the crew. Starring former Cirque du Soleil clown Ron Campbell, it runs through April 3 at the Lyceum Stage in Downtown.

Mack & Mabel: The musical story of a silent film director recalling his love affair with an actress he discovered. It runs through April 10 at the Lamplighters Community Theatre in La Mesa.

Private Eyes: Steven Dietz’s dark “comedy of suspicion” in which the audience is left to their own devices to decide whether or not a couple is cheating on one another. It runs through April 10 at PowPAC Community Theatre in Escondido.

The Miracle Worker: William Gibson’s classic story of Helen Keller and her committed teacher Anne Sullivan. It runs through April 10 at the Lamb’s Players Theatre in Coronado.

The Rocky Horror Show: You’ve seen the movie, now see the show about a couple who unwillingly stumbles upon the castle of a “sweet transvestite” and a sordid cast of characters. Presented by Cygnet Theatre, it runs through May 1 at the Old Town Theatre.


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