re: What happened with Hilary Swank and Miracle Worker?

Mark2
Chorus Member
joined:4/17/05
The "feud" thread mentioned the Miracle Worker revival with Swank. I remember walking by the Music Box and seeing the poster/marquee a few years ago and always wondered exactly what happened? I found some random website where the little girl who was playing Helen said it may start up again, but never did. Hilary is such a great actress but I can't imagine anyone except a young Patty Duke in the role. Any insider gossip?
ShbrtAlley44
Broadway Legend
joined:8/1/03
I met Hilary at a question and answer session for Million Dollar Baby and asked her about this afterwards. She said that it wasn't happening because one of the lead actors in it (a guy, don't remember who) got a project...they waited for him, but then she got Million Dollar Baby and it just kind of fell apart. So it's not happening.
Demitri2
Broadway Star
joined:3/25/05
Not really any gossip here other than the fact that there was very little interest in the production as far as the box office was concerned. The lack of people purchasing tickets for the NY run caused the producers to pull the plug on the show before coming to Broadway. Yes, I was surprised too since I don't believe there has ever been a revival of this highly esteemed play and the time seemed right especially with an actress who had recently won an Academy Award.
PJ
Broadway Legend
joined:5/15/03
I also heard that she was a terrible stage actor and had trouble memorizing her lines. I have no idea if there's any truth to that, but that's what I heard when the plug was pulled on the project.
Jon
Broadway Legend
joined:2/20/04
There's never been a Broadway revival, but there was the feature film, PLUS two different made-for-TV movie versions, so did we realy NEED a revival?
Demitri2
Broadway Star
joined:3/25/05
Ah...but then I have to ask... why another "Streetcar Named Desire" or "Cat On A Hot Tin Roof"?
Michael Bennett
Broadway Legend
joined:3/16/05
The Miracle Worker is one of the greatest American plays ever written. It truly deserves a first class revival on Broadway.

This revival had been talked about for years with Jodie Foster, Minnie Driver and Rachel Weisz, all at one time or another rumored to take the lead.

The production finally got off the ground with Swank -- fresh from her Oscar win, but hardly a box office draw.

As I understand it, the reason the show closed out of town was trifold -- while it is true that advance ticket sales were slow, this is common for any play, especially one produced by the Weissler's that had very little advertising. But the production was fairly inexpensive to produce, and if it had been steller, it would have surely come into New York.

There was some squabbling about the show's direction, but as I understand it, yes, the real problem was Swank's performance. She was simply unable to carry a role as difficult as Annie Sullivan in her stage debut. A friend in the production said there was no way they could have brought it into New York with her. I think rather then go through the process of trying to recast, they decided to simply cut their losses.

I do expect the show will be revived in the next few seasons, maybe by the Roundabout.
Mark2
Chorus Member
joined:4/17/05
I am such a fan of Patty Duke that I can't imagine finding a little girl who could do the role properly without looking foolish. As always I am amazed that a film actress as good as Swank can't cut it on the stage.......that why I have always preferred NY based theater actors.....
Michael Bennett
Broadway Legend
joined:3/16/05
The girl who played Helen in this production was supposedly extraordinary. Its a tough role, and Duke was indeed brilliant, but Helen was apparently not the problem with this production.

There are some film actors with a great deal of stage experience who could pull this off (Anna Paquin, Cate Blanchett) but this was Swank's stage debut. She hadn't even done high school theatre. And Annie Sullivan is a deceptively complex and difficult, not to mention physically taxing role. Swank might be wonderful in the right stage vehicle but this was asking a little much of any first time stage actor, star or not.
ShbrtAlley44
Broadway Legend
joined:8/1/03
I loathe Anna Paquin, and she's much too young for that part. I think she's a dreadful actress.
Michael Bennett
Broadway Legend
joined:3/16/05
Anna Paquin is actually the right age. Annie Sullivan is supposed to be 19 years old....
Mark2
Chorus Member
joined:4/17/05
19? Really? Anne Bancroft was a little old for the role right?
Michael Bennett
Broadway Legend
joined:3/16/05
Yes Anne Bancroft was old for the part, but so was Duke. In the script, Helen is only six. Obviously you can't find a six year old to play that role, but you could find a 21 year old to play Sullivan.

There are several lines in the script that indicate Sullivan's youth -- "How do they expect one blind child to teach another?" etc.

It would be really interesting to see the role cast age appropriate.
Demitri2
Broadway Star
joined:3/25/05
"The Miracle Worker" was the first straight play I ever saw and it made quite an impression on me. My parents started taking me to the theater when I was 4 years old and I think they jumped the gun on this one. I remember certain flashback scenes concerning the brother and the Perkins Institution for the Blind that scared the hell out of me. Ann Bancroft and Patty Duke had left the show but a very young Suzanne Pleshette was excellent in the role of Sullivan.
Derech2
Featured Actor
joined:10/24/04
Miracle Worker is an incredible show. I would die to see it revived. I played James Keller a couple years back. Every single role/character is so poignant and rich, and the story never ceases to touch you. I can actually sort of see Hilary Swank in the role of Annie, but I don't know a whole lot about her ...
Coimhéad fearg fhear na foighde.
Tag
Broadway Legend
joined:11/19/05
The actress who was to have played Helen in this production has died at age 21.
RIP Skye McCole Bartusiak
StageManager2
Broadway Legend
joined:10/21/05
Tag, how did you know about this thread? It was started several months before you or I joined.
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Salve, Salve Regina
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Ad te suspiramus, gementes et flentes
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LizzieCurry
Broadway Legend
joined:3/7/05
There's a dysfunctional search function which occasionally works.

And how sad! Thanks for passing it on, Tag.
"Don't patronize me, alright?" - BroadwayStar4
StageManager2
Broadway Legend
joined:10/21/05
What I meant is, the thread was begun and ended on April 17, 2005, and hasn't been updated since until today. Tag didn't join until November of that year, so he couldn't have seen or known about this thread.
Salve, Regina, Mater misericordiae
Vita, dulcedo, et spes nostra
Salve, Salve Regina
Ad te clamamus exsules filii Eva
Ad te suspiramus, gementes et flentes
O clemens O pia
LizzieCurry
Broadway Legend
joined:3/7/05
So? That doesn't mean you can't search for something that might've been here at some point. You read books that are older than you are, right?
"Don't patronize me, alright?" - BroadwayStar4
StageManager2
Broadway Legend
joined:10/21/05
I was merely wondering how Tag new about this specific thread that mentions a production Skye Whatever was supposed to star in, since it was started 7 months before his/her arrival. The thread doesn't mention her at all, so it wouldn't have come up if he searched her name.
Salve, Regina, Mater misericordiae
Vita, dulcedo, et spes nostra
Salve, Salve Regina
Ad te clamamus exsules filii Eva
Ad te suspiramus, gementes et flentes
O clemens O pia
AEA AGMA SM
Broadway Legend
joined:8/13/09
"Tag didn't join until November of that year, so he couldn't have seen or known about this thread."

So it's impossible to believe that he found it through the search function? I can't imagine there are that many threads about this production that would have made it difficult to find.
Did you know that every day Mexican gays cross our borders and unplug our brain-dead ladies?
mar6411
Featured Actor
joined:9/19/09
Lots of times people read the board for a period of time before they join. Maybe he read it before he joined. Several possibilities. Tag will undoubtedly solve the mystery.
mar6411
Featured Actor
joined:9/19/09
Duplicate post. Sorry.
Updated On: 7/20/14 at 09:21 AM
madbrian
Broadway Legend
joined:6/1/06
I think Alison Pill would be terrific as Annie Sullivan, though she wouldn't sell tickets.
"It does me no injury for my neighbour to say there are 20 gods or no god. It neither picks my pocket, nor breaks my leg." -- Thomas Jefferson
SomethingPeculiar
Chorus Member
joined:6/15/14
Pill did the very short-lived 2010 revival with Abigail Breslin, ELizabeth Franz and Matthew Modine. It lasted 38 performances:
http://www.playbillvault.com/Show/Detail/Whos_who/3214/357/The-Miracle-Worker

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