Producers for a Broadway production based on the life of Helen Keller have quieted controversy from campaigners for disabled actors by casting a visually-impaired girl as Abigail Breslin’s understudy in The Miracle Worker.
Last month, the young Oscar-nominated star’s appointment as a deaf and blind girl was met with criticism from activists for people with disabilities. Campaigners for impaired actors at the Alliance for Inclusion in the Arts hit out at Breslin’s casting, insisting a disabled actress should have been considered for the starring role.
Abigail, 13, will make her Broadway debut next year as Helen Keller in the revival of William Gibson’s play, about a young girl who learns to communicate with the help of a devoted instructor.
Kyra Ynez Siegel, 10, who suffered an injury to her right eye at the age of nine which left her with only partial sight, will stand in for Breslin if the star is forced to miss a performance.
The Miracle Worker’s producer, David Richenthal, tells The New York Times: “Kyra gave the best audition, showing real acting talent and physical skill and physical stamina. We were aware she had significant vision loss, but I can’t say that influenced us one way or another. I’m pleased we found a brilliant young actress as a result of this outreach.”
The Miracle Worker opens on the famed New York City theater district on March 3, marking the 50th anniversary of the show’s Broadway debut.