Friday, May 20, 2011

Three Authors, Three Plays

Long before Harry Potter, Twilight and The Chronicles of Narnia, L. Frank Baum  ( 1856– 1919) entranced young readers with his stories  of  witches—good and bad,  a yellow brick road ,  lions, tigers and bears, flying monkey’s , munchkins and a little girl named Dorothy ,  and her adventures with a scarecrow, cowardly lion and tin man  in a place called Oz. While Baum made his debut as a novelist with Mother Goose in Prose (1897), a book based on stories he told his own children,  it is  Wizard of Oz, and the Oz series  (titles that include: The Emerald City of Oz, The Marvelous Land of Oz, Ozma of Oz)  Baum is most noted for. 

Mark Twain (1835—1910) lauded as the greatest American humorist of his age , is most recognized today for his novels, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, and its sequel Huckleberry Finn.  Both  novels are about young boys,  and the challenges they face growing up on the Mississippi River, and reflect  stories of Twain’s childhood memory of  growing up in Hannibal, Missouri.  In Chapter Two  Tom  appears on the sidewalk with  a bucket of paint and a long handled brush to paint  a board fence 30 yards long and nine feet high.  Drawn into Tom’s punishment, what kid doesn’t feel sad for him learning  all the gladness left him, and a deep melancholy settled upon his spirit.  As children we   easily identify with Tom as we recall our own  punishment for some misdeed we did, and know what it feels like to have the gladness leave us (at least for a time).

William Faulkner called Twain  the Father of American  literature. 

The Miracle Worker is  a 3 act play by William Gibson  about Helen Keller (1880– 1968) and  her teacher,  Annie Sullivan (1866—1936).   Gibson adapted his play from Keller’s autobiography, The Story of My Life.  The play depicts the relationship  between the child, Helen Keller who was deaf and blind,  and Sullivan who instilled in her a desire for learning and knowledge. 

The  title originates in Mark Twain’s  description of Sullivan as a “miracle worker”.  Twain was a great admirer of both women, and  even helped arrange funding of Keller’s Radcliffe College.

While you might find the above tidbits  about The Wizard of  Oz, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, and The Miracle Worker interesting, you  also might be wondering  why I chose these particular three, and what , if anything do they have in common.  It’s this.   In the next few weeks, all three  will be represented on stage   right here in the Coeur d Alene/Spokane area !

The Miracle Worker  at  Interplayers Theater , Spokane, WA  May 5 thru May 29. Directed by Patty Duke. In 1962 Duke won an Academy Award for her performance as Helen Keller in the movie, The Miracle Worker.   For more information visit 


The Christian  Youth Theater will present The Adventures of Tom Sawyer at the KROC Center May 20— May 29.

The Wizard of Oz , part of the Coeur d Alene Summer Theater series , will run  June 9—June 19 at Boswell Hall, North Idaho College.   Ellen Travolta (John's sister), will portray the wicked witch. My  young cousin Mallory  Cooney King will  star as Dorothy. How special is that! Wizard of Oz has always been my favorite movie, now  I can hardly wait to see   Mal skipping down the yellow brick road,  and hear her sing Somewhere OVER THE RAINBOW skies are blue, And the dreams that you dare to dream really do come true .  Somehow, I think Mr. L. Frank Baum would be pleased too, knowing his fairy tale continues to bring wonderment and joy to so many. 

  Tickets available at the Box Office or on line at








1 comment:

Nancy Owens Barnes said...

Kathy, thanks for letting us know about these events. Sounds like fun!