Hilary Swank Will Be Bway-Bound Miracle Worker in 2003, Starting in NC

News   Hilary Swank Will Be Bway-Bound Miracle Worker in 2003, Starting in NC

 

Hilary Swank.

 

Academy Award-winner Hilary Swank will play Helen Keller's patient but feisty teacher, Annie Sullivan, in a Broadway-bound revival of The Miracle Worker, starting at Charlotte Repertory Theatre March 8-20, 2003, the Charlotte Rep announced. Marianne Elliott, an artistic director at London's Royal Exchange, will direct. Performances begin on Broadway in April, with dates and theatre to be announced, though the venue is expected to be The Music Box. Barry and Fran Weissler are producing the Broadway run. Weeks ago, Swank had been reported in negotiations for the role.

Swank won her Oscar for "Boys Don't Cry." The complete cast has not been announced, but it's thought that Skye Bartusiak — who starred with Swank in "The Affair of the Necklace," although her scenes were cut prior to the movie's debut — will play Helen Keller.

North Carolina performances of the William Gibson play about the childhood of deaf and blind Keller play the 434 seat Booth Playhouse, in the North Carolina Blumenthal Performing Arts Center.

Designers are Les Brotherson (set and costumes) and Paul Gallo (lights). The troupe will rehearse in New York City and travel to Charlotte before returning to Manhattan in time for Tony Award eligibility.

The Charlotte run is "terrific" for the resident NC not-for profit, Rep producing artistic director Michael Bush told Playbill On-Line. "It's part of what I wanted to do when I decided to come down to Charlotte," said former New Yorker Bush, currently in his first full season in Charlotte. "I wanted to raise the Rep to a national profile. I'm glad to say that's happened so quickly."

The Miracle Worker, which still shocks a modern audiences for the physicality and violence from the actress playing Helen, won six Tony Awards, including one for Best Play in 1959. Anne Bancroft and Patty Duke were the original stars, and repeated their roles on film.

"It's very violent," Bush said, "and in talking to Marianne, I don't think we're going to shy away from it."

Bancroft and Duke both won Oscars for their performances. Duke later played Annie in a TV film of the work, with Melissa Gilbert as Helen. A theatrical sequel, Monday After the Miracle, showed Helen and Annie as adults, dealing with very different issues.

The NC staging replaces the announced Rep show, Jar the Floor, which gets bumped to 2003-2004. Single ticket for the Rep run go on sale Dec. 9. For information about Charlotte Repertory Theatre, call (704) 372-1000 or visit www.charlotterep.org.

— By Kenneth Jones