The upcoming revival of The Miracle Worker — produced by Barry and Fran Weissler — will have an out-of-town tryout at the Charlotte Repertory Theatre in North Carolina from March 1-30, 2003. A casting notice revealed the information as well as the news that the Tony-winning show will begin previews on Broadway in April 2003.
William Gibson's play will be directed by Marianne Elliott and will reportedly star Academy Award winner Hilary Swank ("Boys Don't Cry") in the role of Annie Sullivan. Young film actress Skye Bartusiak has also been mentioned for the role of Helen Keller, although a spokesman for the show was unable to be reached at press time.
The William Gibson drama about blind and deaf Helen Keller and her feisty teacher, Annie Sullivan, memorably starred Patty Duke and Anne Bancroft in the 1959 Broadway run and later on film.
Marianne Elliott, an artistic director at London's Royal Exchange, will direct the production. Her directorial credits include Noël Coward's Private Lives for Royal Exchange as well as an acclaimed staging of The Little Foxes for London's intimate Donmar Warehouse. Gibson's drama about the true story of Helen Keller, a blind child whose life was transformed when she met teacher Sullivan, debuted at Broadway's Playhouse Theatre in October 1959. Anne Bancroft (Sullivan) and Patty Duke (Keller) headed the cast of the production, which ran for 719 performances. Arthur Penn directed that original Broadway mounting, which received Tony Awards for Best Play, Best Director of a Play (Penn), Best Actress in a Play (Bancroft), Best Scenic Designer (George Jenkins) and Best Stage Technician (John Walters).
Bancroft and Duke re-created their roles in the 1962 film; both won Oscars for their performances. Duke later played Annie in a TV film of the work, with Melissa Gilbert as Helen. A sequel, Monday After the Miracle, showed Helen and Annie as adults, dealing with very different issues.
—By Andrew Gans