To Kill a Mockingbird (2018 play)

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To Kill a Mockingbird
To Kill a Mockingbird Original Broadway Production Playbill - 2018.jpeg
Playbill cover of the original Broadway production
Written byAaron Sorkin
Date premieredDecember 13, 2018 (2018-12-13)
Place premieredShubert Theatre, New York
GenreDrama
SettingMaycomb, Alabama

To Kill a Mockingbird is a 2018 play based on the 1960 novel of the same name by Harper Lee, adapted for the stage by Aaron Sorkin. It opened on Broadway at the Shubert Theatre on December 13, 2018. The play is set to transfer to London's West End at the Gielgud Theatre in 2021.[1][2] The show follows the story of Atticus Finch, a lawyer in 1930's Alabama, as he defends Tom Robinson, a black man falsely accused of rape.[3] Varying from the book, the play has Atticus as the protagonist, not his daughter Scout, allowing his character to change throughout the show.[4] During development the show was involved in two legal disputes, the first with the Lee estate over the faithfulness of the play to the original book, and the second was due to exclusivity to the rights with productions using the script by Christopher Sergel.[4][5] During opening week, the production garnered more than $1.5 million in box office sales and reviews by publications such as the New York Times, LA Times and AMNY were positive but not without criticism.[6][7][8][9]

Cast[edit]

Character Original Broadway
(2018)
West End
(TBA)
National tour
(TBA)
Atticus Finch Jeff Daniels Rafe Spall Richard Thomas
Scout Finch Celia Keenan-Bolger TBA TBA
Jem Finch Will Pullen TBA TBA
Dill Harris Gideon Glick TBA TBA
Bob Ewell Fred Weller TBA TBA
Tom Robinson Gbenga Akinnagbe TBA TBA
Horace Gilmer Stark Sands TBA TBA
Judge John Taylor Dakin Matthews TBA TBA
Mayella Ewell Erin Wilhelmi TBA TBA
Link Deas Neal Huff TBA TBA
Boo Radley Danny Wolohan TBA TBA
Calpurnia≠ LaTanya Richardson TBA TBA

Notable Broadway replacements[10][11]

Production history[edit]

Broadway (2018 - present)[edit]

It was announced in February 2016 that Aaron Sorkin would bring the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel to Broadway, in a new production produced by Scott Rudin and directed by Bartlett Sher.[12] The book had previously been adapted for the stage but Rudin specified that this production would be completely unrelated to the prior pieces.[citation needed] On February 15, 2018, it was announced that Jeff Daniels would star in the production as Atticus Finch.[citation needed] Celia Keenan-Bolger and Will Pullen were also announced to play Scout and Jem Finch, respectively.[13] The production began previews at the Shubert Theatre on November 1, 2018, prior to an official opening on December 13, 2018.

During production the show was involved in two legal disputes, one with the Harper Lee estate, and the other against licensed productions of the Christopher Sergel adaptation.[14][15]

As of March 12, 2020, the play suspended production due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Performances will be suspended until January 3, 2021 at the earliest.[16]

West End (2022)[edit]

In 2019 it was announced that the production would transfer to London's West End to the Gielgud Theatre opening in May 2020 with Rhys Ifans as Atticus Finch before being postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.[17]

In early 2021, it was announced the production would begin previews on 22 March, with an opening on 31 March 2022 with Rafe Spall replacing Ifans as Atticus Finch.[18]

Legal disputes during production[edit]

Sorkin and the Harper Lee estate[edit]

During development of the play, the Lee estate believed that the proposed script varied too much from the book, and a complaint was filed in an Alabama federal court in March 2018.[19] In discussion with Sorkin about the terms of use for the rights to produce a play, it was specified by the estate that the character of Atticus should not deviate from the original character created by Harper Lee.[20] The Lee estate alleged that Sorkin had made too many changes to the original story by framing Atticus as the main character instead of Scout.[4] Sorkin describes how the evolution of Atticus was viewed by the Lee estate as being "far less dignified" than the original character but the show's lawyers disputed this point stating his character "does not derogate or depart from the spirit of the novel."[14] Because the Lee estate lawsuit was jeopardizing the release of the show, a countersuit of $10 million was filed by Sorkin's lawyers in April 2018.[20] On the tenth of May 2018, the premiere of the show was confirmed after an agreement was reached between the two parties, and both lawsuits were settled.[20]

Rudin against licensed productions[edit]

Before Aaron Sorkin adapted To Kill a Mockingbird for the theatre, a different adaptation of the novel by playwright Christopher Sergel had been available for license for over 50 years.[21] Claiming worldwide exclusivity for the professional stage rights to any adaptation of Lee's novel, lawyers acting for the company Scott Rudin formed to produce Sorkin's adaptation, Atticus Limited Liability Company (ALLC), moved to shut down productions of the Sergel adaption staged within 25 miles of any city that ALLC determined to be a major metropolitan center that might eventually host a production of Sorkin's adaptation, even if that company had already paid the rights holders.[22][23][5][24] Dozens of community and non-profit theaters across the US cancelled productions of Sergel's adaptation, as well as a professional tour planned in the UK.[25][26] After a public outcry, Scott Rudin offered to 'ameliorate the hurt caused' by making Sorkin's adaptation available to regional producers.[27]

Reception[edit]

Critical reception[edit]

While some critics criticized the liberties taken by Sorkin, the Los Angeles Times theater critic Charles McNulty however wrote that Sorkin's adaptation "moves as confidently as it speaks even if it doesn't completely add up dramatically."[7] McNulty disputes those who take issue with the changes Sorkin made to the story by stating that Sorkin "created something impeccably fresh."[7] Jesse Green, a theater critic from the New York Times articulated that Sorkin's choice to start with the trial and provide backstory through scenes going back in time was "very effective" for telling the story on stage.[8] Matt Windman argues that "some of Sorkin's choices are questionable" and that the set design was "too distracting to be effective."[9] Windman also articulates that the show "proves to be an engrossing, provocative, and uniformly well-acted adaptation."[9]

Box office[edit]

The show opened on December 13, 2018, during the week ending on December 23, the production grossed over $1.5 million, breaking the record for box office grosses for a non-musical play in a theater owned by The Shubert Organization.[6] Prior to opening, $22 million were made in advance ticket sales at the box office.[28]

Awards and nominations[edit]

Broadway production[edit]

Year Award Category Nominee Result
2019 Tony Awards[29] Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Play Jeff Daniels Nominated
Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Play Gideon Glick Nominated
Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Play Celia Keenan-Bolger Won
Best Original Score Adam Guettel Nominated
Best Direction of a Play Bartlett Sher Nominated
Best Scenic Design of a Play Miriam Buether Nominated
Best Costume Design of a Play Ann Roth Nominated
Best Lighting Design of a Play Jennifer Tipton Nominated
Best Sound Design of a Play Scott Lehrer Nominated
Drama Desk Award[30] Outstanding Featured Actress in a Play Celia Keenan-Bolger Won
Drama League Awards[31] Outstanding Production of a Broadway or Off-Broadway Play Nominated
Distinguished Performance Award Jeff Daniels Nominated
Celia Keenan-Bolger Nominated
Outer Critics Circle Awards[32] Outstanding New Broadway Play Nominated
Outstanding Featured Actress in a Play Celia Keenan-Bolger Won
Outstanding Director of a Play Bartlett Sher Nominated

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Harper Lee's To Kill A Mockingbird opens at Gielgud Theatre May 2021". British Theatre.com. January 29, 2021.
  2. ^ "TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD: Harper Lee's seminal novel is set to take the West End by storm in 2020". londonboxoffice.co.uk. London Box Office. 6 December 2019. Retrieved 11 December 2019.
  3. ^ Limbong, Andrew (26 December 2018). "Aaron Sorkin Brings 'To Kill A Mockingbird' To The Broadway Stage". NPR.org.
  4. ^ a b c McNulty, Charles (2019-04-30). "Aaron Sorkin talks 'To Kill a Mockingbird' and disavowing the white savior role". Los Angeles Times.
  5. ^ a b Peterson, Chris. "Issue Over Two Different Mockingbird Scripts" onstageblog, February 25, 2019
  6. ^ a b Hetrick, Adam (2018-12-26). "Grosses Analysis: To Kill a Mockingbird Breaks 118-Year Broadway Box Office Record". Playbill.
  7. ^ a b c McNulty, Charles (2018-12-14). "Review: In 'To Kill a Mockingbird' on Broadway, the words of Harper Lee but the voice of Aaron Sorkin". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2020-05-09.
  8. ^ a b Green, Jesse (2018-12-13). "Review: A Broadway 'Mockingbird,' Elegiac and Effective". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2020-05-09.
  9. ^ a b c Windman, Matt (2018-12-13). "'To Kill A Mockingbird' review: Aaron Sorkin delivers with new play". amNewYork. Retrieved 2020-05-09.
  10. ^ Ed Harris to Succeed Jeff Daniels in ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ on Broadway
  11. ^ Greg Kinnear Sets Broadway Debut In ‘To Kill A Mockingbird’
  12. ^ "Aaron Sorkin Bringing Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird to Broadway". playbill.com. Playbill. 10 February 2016. Retrieved 8 July 2018.
  13. ^ "Jeff Daniels to Reunite With Aaron Sorkin for Broadway's To Kill a Mockingbird, With Celia Keenan-Bolger, Gideon Glick, and More". playbill.com. Playbill. 15 February 2018. Retrieved 8 July 2018.
  14. ^ a b Alter, Alexandra; Paulson, Michael (2018-03-14). "Harper Lee's Estate Sues Over Broadway Version of 'Mockingbird'". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2020-05-09.
  15. ^ Peterson, Chris (2019-01-25). "Issue Over Two Different "To Kill a Mockingird" Scripts". OnStage Blog. Retrieved 2020-05-09.
  16. ^ Clement, Olivia (May 12, 2020). "Check the Statuses of Broadway Shows During the Coronavirus Shutdown". Retrieved May 29, 2020.
  17. ^ Longman, Will (20200220). "To Kill a Mockingbird starring Rhys Ifans extends run in the West End". London Theatre Guide. Retrieved 2021-03-28. Check date values in: |date= (help)
  18. ^ "Rafe Spall to Star as Atticus Finch in the West End's To Kill a Mockingbird". Broadway.com. Retrieved 2021-03-28.
  19. ^ Alter, Alexandra; Paulson, Michael (2018-03-14). "Harper Lee's Estate Sues Over Broadway Version of 'Mockingbird'". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2020-05-09.
  20. ^ a b c Flood, Alison (2018-05-11). "Mockingbird play set for Broadway after Harper Lee estate settles dispute". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 2020-05-09.
  21. ^ "ABOUT THE AUTHOR AND PLAYWRIGHT: TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD". Utah Shakespeare Festival. Retrieved October 25, 2020.
  22. ^ Evans, Greg. " 'To Kill a Mockingbird' UK Tour Cancelled" deadline, January 22, 2019
  23. ^ Means, Sean."The Grand cancels its production of ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ at Salt Lake Community College over a legal battle with a Broadway mogul" Salt Lake Tribune, February 20, 2019
  24. ^ Leighton, Paul. "'Mockingbird' killed in Marblehead" Salem News, February 25, 2019
  25. ^ "Associated Press". Retrieved October 25, 2020.
  26. ^ "Community Theaters Kill 'Mockingbird' Productions After Lawsuit Threat". NPR. Retrieved October 25, 2020.
  27. ^ "Scott Rudin Responds to 'Mockingbird' Controversy With a Solution". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved October 25, 2020.
  28. ^ Hetrick, Adam (2018-12-26). "Grosses Analysis: To Kill a Mockingbird Breaks 118-Year Broadway Box Office Record". Playbill. Retrieved 2020-05-09.
  29. ^ [1]
  30. ^ McPhee, Rysn (April 25, 2019). "Nominations for the 2019 Drama Desk Awards Announced; Oklahoma!, Tootsie, Rags Parkland Lead the Pack". Playbill. Retrieved April 26, 2019.
  31. ^ Lefkowitz, Andy (2019-04-17). "Nominations Announced for 85th Annual Drama League Awards". Broadway.com. Retrieved 2019-04-17.
  32. ^ Lefkowitz, Andy (2019-04-23). "Hadestown, Tootsie & Oklahoma! Lead 2019 Outer Critics Circle Award Nominations". Broadway.com. Retrieved 2019-04-23.

External links[edit]