Gettysburg College prof's new musical to debut March 14 at Majestic Theater

A Gettysburg College professor is co-author of a new musical about Helen Keller and her teacher Anne Sullivan, which will be presented as a work in progress at 7 p.m. March 14 at the Majestic Theater’s Cinema One.

Audience members will have an unusual opportunity to help shape the musical’s final form by providing feedback to the playwright following the performance.

“Helen and Teacher” features book and lyrics by Dr. Susan Russell, associate professor of theatre arts and women’s studies, and music by Dr. Lynn Gumert, visiting artist at Rutgers University.

The musical not only retells the familiar story of how the blind-deaf Keller learned language with Sullivan’s help, but also chronicles their later years together, including their adventures in Hollywood and vaudeville as they
struggled to earn their own living, Keller’s experience of writing her bestselling autobiography and Sullivan’s marriage to radical scholar John Macy.

Admission to the one-night-only event will be free, but tickets are required and can be obtained by calling the Majestic Box Office at 337-8200 after noon. The Majestic is one block north of Lincoln Square in downtown Gettysburg.

Unlike a full production, the presentation will include actors reading from scripts. Singing will be accompanied by pianist Tim Foster. Stage directions will be read aloud. There will be minimal staging and some projected images.

Guest-stars will be Dr. George Muschamp, instructor, Gettysburg College Department of Theatre Arts, and Chad-Alan Carr, director of the Academy at the Eichelberger Performing Arts Center in Hanover. Also featured will be Gettysburg College Assistant Prof. of Italian Stefano Boselli, Gettysburg College 2000 graduate Samantha Gregg Isherwood, Ben Sasnett, Max Liebetrau and Victoria Liebetrau portraying Helen as a child.

The cast will also feature Gettysburg College student actors, including Anne Sullivan: Angela Hartman; Anne as a Child: Erin Haughee; Kate Keller: Kirsten Egenes; James Keller: James Merrifield; Captain Keller: Charles
“Chaz” Andrews; Helen Keller: Anna Armagno, all first-year students except Merrifield, a junior, and Andrews, a sophomore. Additional cast members include sophomore Chelsea Bucklin and first-years Shatera Kimbrough and
Patrice Bramble.

The project is supported by funding from the Gettysburg College Department of Theatre Arts, Faculty Development Committee, Office of the Provost, and Americans with Disabilities Act Committee. The latter is helping to provide
sign-language interpreters. The Mellon Foundation will support a reading with professional actors later this year.

Gettysburg College is a highly selective four-year residential college of liberal arts and sciences. With a student body of approximately 2,600, it is located on a 200-acre campus adjacent to the Gettysburg National Military
Park in Pennsylvania. The college was founded in 1832.

Posted March 10, 2008

Founded in 1832, Gettysburg College is a highly selective four-year residential college of liberal arts and sciences with a strong academic tradition. Alumni include Rhodes Scholars, a Nobel laureate, and other distinguished scholars. The college enrolls 2,600 undergraduate students and is located on a 200-acre campus adjacent to the Gettysburg National Military Park in Pennsylvania.

Posted: Sun, 9 Mar 2008


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