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Abigail Breslin to Play Helen Keller in ‘The Miracle Worker’

Oscar nominee Abigail Breslin will play Helen Keller in a Broadway revival of the play The Miracle Worker. The play opens March 3rd at the Circle in the Square.

The cast did a photo call on Monday. That’s Breslin at center, with Alison Pill (left) and Jennifer Morrison. Pill will be Anne Sullivan, the tutor who helped open Keller’s blinded eyes to the world. Morrison will play Helen’s mother Kate, with Matthew Modine as Helen’s father.

An image by John Dugdale from the official Miracle Worker site.

The original Broadway production of The Miracle Worker was one of the most celebrated plays of its day.  It ran for 719 performances, from 1959-61, and starred Patty Duke as Helen and Anne Bancroft as Annie Sullivan.  The production won Tony Awards in 1960 for best actress (Bancroft), best director (Arthur Penn) and best play (for author William Gibson and producer Fred Coe).

After the play’s run ended, they took the whole thing to the movies. Gibson rewrote his play as a screenplay, and Arthur Penn directed Duke and Bancroft in their same roles.  The film of The Miracle Worker came out in 1962.  Gibson and Penn were nominated for Oscars, Bancroft won the Oscar as best actress, and Duke won the Oscar as best supporting actress.

No wonder the actors are excited about the revival. (They’ve posted video from before the first rehearsal on the play’s website.) Kate Whoriskey will direct this time around.

This is the first-ever Broadway revival of the play, and it will also be Breslin’s Broadway debut. She was Oscar-nominated for her role (above) in the unfortunate 2006 comedy Little Miss Sunshine.

Breslin will be 13 years and 11 months old when the play opens — about one year older than Duke was when she starred in the 1959 version of the play.

This is a photo of the real Helen Keller, reading Anne Sullivan’s lips in 1897. Keller was about 17 years old in this shot, and she looks a little like Breslin to us.

More photos of Abigail Breslin >>

Photo credits: (first) Joseph Marzullo/WENN, (second) John Dugdale for ‘The Miracle Worker,’ (last) U.S. Library of  Congress.

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