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Arts & Entertainment, etc. / Theater

Casting controversy for B'way "Miracle Worker"

October 29, 2009

Abigail Breslin, the star of "Little Miss Sunshine," has been cast as Helen Keller in an upcoming Broadway revival of "The Miracle Worker."

The problem according to the Alliance for Inclusion in the Arts, is that, unlike her character, Breslin can see and hear.

The group's executive director has complained that actors with disabilities were not auditioned for the role, saying: “We do not think it’s O.K. for reputable producers to cast this lead role without seriously considering an actress from our community." See the New York Times item here.

Producing a Broadway show these days--any Broadway show--is a risky proposition. And the producers have said that they will audition deaf or blind actresses to understudy Breslin. Still, do you see any problem with Breslin being cast in the role made famous by Patty Duke back in the original 1959 production?

Is there a difference between casting based on physical abilities and casting based on ethnicity? Should a blind actor have been given a shot at Al Pacino's character in "Scent of a Woman"? Should an actual amputee have played Lt. Dan in "Forest Gump"?

Your thoughts?

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