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Theater Company Selects Wheelchair User In Wheelchair Role

by Dave Reynolds (subscribe)

PITTSBURGH--Robert "Ironside" used a wheelchair, but the actor who portrayed him, Raymond Burr, did not.

Ron Kovic uses a wheelchair, but Tom Cruise, who portrayed him in "Born on the Fourth of July", does not.

Raymond Babbit had autism, but Dustin Hoffman, who played the role in "Rain Man", does not.

The list goes on and on.

So often, actors without disabilities are called in to play characters with disabilities.

That has changed, at least for the next month, at a Pittsburgh theater: A stage actor with a disability will be playing the role of a character with a disability, in a play written by an acclaimed playwright with a disability.

From now until April 2, Pittsburgh's City Theatre will be featuring the love story entitled "Pyretown".

The play was written by John Belluso, who used a wheelchair from age 13 until his death on February 10 at age 36.

The theater company had originally planned to cast a local actor without disabilities in the role of Harry, who uses a wheelchair. But a foundation agreed to pay for the cost of an out-of-town talent search for an actor with a disability.

City Theatre finally selected Los Angeles actor Tobias "Toby" Forrest to play the lead character.

Forrest, 30, does not have a long stage acting resume.

"But I have a lot of wheelchair experience," he told the Post-Gazette.

"City Theatre casts actor who uses wheelchair in role of disabled character" (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)
"Pyretown" (City Theatre Company)
FISA Foundation

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