To Kill A Mockingbird A Hit on Broadway

A stage production of Harper Lee’s beloved American classic novel To Kill A Mockingbird opened recently on Broadway and, according to Playbill, the show is a hit:

After a strong showing in its first few performances in the week ending November 4, Broadway’s To Kill a Mockingbird joined the Millionaire’s Club in a seven-performance week.

The play grossed $1,130,163 (93.16 percent of its potential) for the week ending November 11, surpassing 100 percent capacity at the Shubert Theatre. Aaron Sorkin’s adaptation of Harper Lee’s beloved novel is set to officially open December 13; the cast includes Jeff Daniels as Atticus Finch and Celia Keenan-Bolger as Scout.

Adapted for the stage by Aaron Sorkin (The West Wing, Sports Night) and with Jeff Daniels center stage as Atticus Finch, this is To Kill A Mockingbird’s first visit to Broadway.

According to Sorkin, there was never a dispute about who would play Atticus. “Jeff has a really large strike zone,” Sorkin told Entertainment Weekly. “You can put it anywhere and Jeff will hit it. So Jeff has been fearless from the beginning. Obviously he’s heard of Gregory Peck, but he’s shrugged that off. He’s making the character his own.”

With Atticus Finch’s character taken care of, the children’s place and casting in the production took more thought.

Less obvious was the casting of a trio of adults to play Atticus’ children, Scout (Celia Keenan-Bolger) and Jem (Will Pullen), and their visiting friend, Dill (Gideon Glick). “It was clear, even from that first draft, that these roles were just too difficult for kids to play,” notes Sorkin. In the first table read, for the sake of ease in a workshop reading, the adults played the roles of the children — and quickly made it clear to Sorkin, Rudin, and Sher that the grown actors unlocked a particular element in the framing device of Sorkin’s memory play. “As it happened, it just felt right, and part of it is that the characters go back and forth between themselves when they were kids and themselves several years later,” he continues. “It just works, and it really wouldn’t have with kids. And it’s not without precedent. You don’t see a 13 or 14-year-old girl playing Juliet in Romeo and Juliet. Peter Pan is always played by an adult woman. It’s going to take four seconds for the audience to adjust.” ◊


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