Blind Actors Blast Breslin Pick for Keller

Advocates complain that blind, deaf had no chance to audition

By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff

Posted Oct 30, 2009 2:54 AM CDT

(Newser) – Advocates for blind and deaf actors complain that they were never given a chance to audition for the role of Helen Keller in an upcoming revival of The Miracle Worker. The part has instead been given to Abigail Breslin, best known for playing Olive in Little Miss Sunshine. The Broadway show's producer says it would have been naïve and "financially irresponsible" to even consider giving the role to anybody except a proven star.

Deaf or blind actresses will get a chance to audition to be Breslin's understudy, the producer said. The director of the Alliance for Inclusion in the Arts advocacy group conceded that it's difficult to finance Broadway shows, but said there are "larger human and artistic issues at stake here.” If deaf or blind actors don't get the chance to try out for roles that could make them stars, then there will never be any deaf or blind stars for producers to cast, she tells the New York Times.

Actress Abigail Breslin poses for a portrait in New York last month.   (AP Photo/Jeff Christensen)
Actress Abigail Breslin appears on the NBC "Today" television program in New York last year.   (AP Photo/Richard Drew)
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It’s simply naïve to think that in this day and age, you’ll be able to sell tickets to a play revival solely on the potential of the production to be a great show or on the potential for an unknown actress to give a breakthrough performance. - Producer David Richenthal

We do not think it’s OK for reputable producers to cast this lead role without seriously considering an actress from our community. - Sharon Jensen, director of
the Alliance for Inclusion in the Arts

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