TUSCUMBIA — Performances of "The Miracle Worker" play at Helen Keller's birthplace, Ivy Green, opens Friday.

Due to COVID-19 concerns, the play, in its 59th year on the grounds, has an abbreviated schedule this year through July 11, with social distancing observed.

The depiction of the life of young Helen Keller and her celebrated teacher Anne Sullivan, has played to sold-out audiences throughout its history.

The play's veteran cast has made performances possible this year under less than ideal circumstances, according to director Caroline Self.

"We've had two weeks of live practices and the a month of virtual (Zoom) practices before that," Self said. "It's been really good to have that time to talk about the story. It's really going to make the show better."

Because of the physical nature of the show, some changes were made in some of the scenes where characters are in close proximity.

"But the main parts stayed and we've just been extra careful to keep distance," Self said. "This cast has fought valiantly to keep the show alive, and they've made concessions to do so. I could not be prouder of the production and cast."

The in-person practices have consisted of mask wearing, careful spacing, regular temperature checks of the cast and an abundance of hand sanitzer on the premises, Self said.

She said she believes some of the changes will raise the production value. She said the show is more modern now with large screen projections throughout the performance.

"People can expect something fresh this year," Self said. "If they've seen it before, they won't feel like it's the same production. It's the same story, delivered even better."

Ivy Green Director Sue Pilkilton said reserved seating for the June 26, 27 and July 11 shows are sold out, but plenty of general admission tickets remain.

Reserved tickets are $15 and general admission is $10.

The audience will be social distanced in the outdoor theater. Seating will be arranged in advance to accommodate family groups. Other precautions such as temperature checks will be adhered to as well.

"People  have been very understanding in honoring the social distancing," Pilkilton said. "It's not ideal because we can only have crowds half the size of a regular season, but it's necessary."

She praised the cast's devotion to moving forward with the show.

"No one wanted to break this great tradition and this cast has been so devoted and has worked so hard to see this happen," she said. "The audiences will be in for a treat."

To order tickets, call 256-383-4066.   

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