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Dan Savage-penned ‘Miracle!’ to open Hell in a Handbag season

Hell in a Handbag Productions will open its 13th season in Chicago this summer with the Midwest premiere of writer/speaker/podcaster Dan Savage’s “MIRACLE!,” a re-imagining of William Gibson’s iconic play “The Miracle Worker.”

Written by Savage, one of the country’s leading writers/speakers on sex, sexuality and GLBTQ issues, “Miracle!” (May 14-July 22) will be directed by Derek Van Barham. The play tells the story of Helen Stellar, a young deaf and blind drag queen who loves to perform under the watchful eye of her drag mother who just happens to be her biological father. When the state assigns Annie Sullivan to teach Helen to better communicate, all hell breaks loose. The play is about family, a father and son, gay and lesbian subculture and finding one’s voice.

Dan Savage | Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP

Dan Savage | Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP

“Plays like ‘The Miracle Worker,’ usually [fall victim] to audiences that are really familiar with the material and maybe don’t really watch every second of the play because they’re waiting for the iconic scene from the movie or the production they saw in high school. It makes for a very traditional theatrical experience,” Savage said. “I took that familiar story and put it in a new context that makes the audience pay attention.”

While Savage said his adaptation “breaks the play right open,” he said “Miracle Worker” diehards will not be disappointed.

“It follows closely to the Helen Keller story,” Savage said. “People who watch the Patty Duke movie version before they come will be delighted by what’s familiar, and what’s different.”

Here’s the rest of the season:

“BETTE, LIVE AT THE CONTINENTAL BATHS” (July 17 – August 21): Directed by Christopher Pazdernik. Caitlin Jackson pays tribute to the Divine Miss M’s legendary cabaret act at the equally legendary Continental Bathhouse in New York City.

“SCREAM, QUEEN, SCREAM!” (September 25 – October 31): Written by David Cerda and inspired by everything from “Night Gallery” and “Tales From the Crypt” to “Creepshow,” three terrifying tales “like the ones your parents didn’t allow you to see when you were a child” unfold.

“CHRISTMAS DEAREST” (November 28, 2015 – January 2, 2016): written by David Cerda, the company celebrates the season with the return of Cerda as Joan Crawford in the Handbag version of “A Christmas Carol.” It’s the night before Christmas and MGM’s biggest star is filming the title role in “Oh Mary,” a splashy new musical biography about The Virgin Mary.

All shows will be presented at Mary’s Attic, 5400 N. Clark. Tickets for “MIRACLE!” are currently on sale at www.handbagproductions.org. Tickets for the rest of the lineup will go on sale at a later date.