Nicholas Viselli Directs Groundbreaking Theater Revival
Photo Courtesy: Carol Rosegg

Nicholas Viselli Directs Groundbreaking Theater Revival

In a vibrant return to the New York stage, Theater Breaking Through Barriers (TBTB) presents the first city revival of Neil Simon’s “I Ought to Be in Pictures” since its Tony Award-winning run over four decades ago. Under the direction of Nicholas Viselli, TBTB not only celebrates Simon’s enduring legacy but also pushes the boundaries of theatrical presentation by integrating accessibility directly into the aesthetic of the performance.

Nicholas Viselli, artistic director at TBTB and a cornerstone of the theater since 1997, has long admired Neil Simon’s craftsmanship in playwriting. This production of “I Ought to Be in Pictures,” a personal favorite of Simon’s, symbolizes more than just a revival; it is a heartfelt tribute to Simon’s profound impact on American theater. The play’s return to New York—home to Simon’s  iconic settings—invites audiences to rediscover his genius in the portrayal of nuanced, heartfelt human experiences.

At the core of TBTB’s mission is the commitment to challenge and redefine the conventional viewing experience by focusing on the artistry of performers regardless of disability. This production, which Viselli points out, has been embraced by the Neil Simon estate, underscores TBTB’s dedication to showcasing quality performances that transcend traditional narratives about disability. “When we first approached the Simon estate, we expressed TBTB’s overarching goal to demonstrate that disability does not diminish the quality or integrity of our art or our artists,” Viselli explains.

In this revival, the role of Libby, a determined young woman reconnecting with her estranged father, is portrayed by a visibly disabled artist, challenging audiences to see beyond physical ability and focus on the character’s vibrant spirit and emotional journey. This casting decision not only reflects TBTB’s inclusive ethos but also enhances the narrative, adding depth to Simon’s already rich characters.

Viselli’s approach to directing “I Ought to Be in Pictures” involves a deep collaboration with the cast to explore complex family dynamics—a theme that resonates strongly in today’s society marked by social division and an erosion of intimate connections. This collaborative process allows the story to unfold naturally, guided by the genuine interactions between characters.

The production also boasts TBTB’s innovative use of accessibility tools such as audio description and open captioning, which are seamlessly integrated into the design of the production. By making every performance fully accessible, TBTB not only caters to audiences with disabilities but elevates the overall theatrical experience, making it more immersive and inclusive. “Turning accessibility into art,” as Viselli puts it, involves transforming traditional accessibility tools into integral elements of the production that enhance the storytelling for all audience members.

Through this groundbreaking revival, TBTB continues to break through barriers, not only in terms of accessibility and representation but also in how theater is perceived and experienced. By blending Neil Simon’s quintessential New York energy and humor with innovative production techniques, TBTB enriches the cultural landscape and sets a new standard for inclusivity in the arts.

As audiences witness the interplay of character development and narrative progression, they are invited to reflect on the essential human need for connection and recognition—themes that Simon masterfully wove into his work and that remain ever-relevant. Viselli hopes that this production will not only reintroduce Neil Simon’s brilliance to a new generation but also inspire other arts organizations to embrace accessibility as a core element of artistic expression.

In a world where differences are often highlighted, TBTB and Nicholas Viselli’s work reminds us of the universal themes that connect us all. This production of “I Ought to Be in Pictures” is not just a theatrical revival; it is a potent reminder of theater’s power to unite, inspire, and transform.


Neil Simon’s  I Ought To Be In Pictures
Directed by Nicholas Viselli
April 20 – May 25, 2024
Theatre Row is located at 410 West 42nd Street.
For information and to purchase tickets, please visit
All performances will be open-captioned and audio-described.


THEATER BREAKING THROUGH BARRIERS (TBTB) is the only Off-Broadway theater company and one of the few theaters in the country dedicated to advancing and celebrating the work of professional artists with disabilities. Founded in 1979 by Ike Schambelan as Theater By the Blind, an integrated company mixing blind, low vision, and sighted vision with able-bodied performers in their work, TBTB expanded its mission in 2008 to include artists of all disabilities and changed its name to Theater Breaking Through Barriers, retaining its TBTB acronym.  Disability is the only diversity that cuts across all racial, gender, social, and class distinctions. Disability knows no age, race, religion, gender, culture, or sexual orientation.  As such, we view disability as a common ground where the voices from every sector of our society can come together to be represented and expressed.


Published By: Aize Perez

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