photo by Julieta Cervantes
The first national tour of Aaron Sorkin’s Broadway version of To Kill a Mockingbird plays the Kimmel Cultural Campus Academy of Music through July 24th. Harper Lee’s novel, released in 1960, has unfortunately stayed all to relevant with a plot that revolves around racial injustices. Atticus Finch (an outstanding performance by Richard Thomas, an Emmy Award-winning actor for his portrayal of John-Boy Walton in The Waltons) is a lawyer in 1930s Alabama chosen to represent Tom Robinson (Yaegel T. Welch), a Black man on trial for a crime he truly did not commit. His jury is white. The story is told innocently through narrations from Atticus Finch’s children- Jem (Justin Mark) and Scout (Melanie Moore) as well as their friend Dill (Steven Lee Johnson).
While Mockingbird is a heavy show that truly makes us think about the social issues that exist still today, it also has plenty of funny moments. I didn’t expect to laugh as much as I did, but there are scenes and portions of dialogue to lighten the tone every now and then- Atticus has a dry humor and lines of sarcasm throughout, as does Calpurnia (Jacqueline Williams is fantastic). The trio of Dill, Jem and Scout crack jokes quite often and engage in typical childhood antics.
To Kill a Mockingbird also features Mary Badham, as Mrs. Dubose. Badham originated the role of Scout in 1962 film and received an Academy Award nomination for that role. Another stand out character is Link Deas, a role performed mostly in American Sign Language by deaf actor Anthony Natale. Deas’ heartbreaking story reminds us to not judge someone without knowing their story.
This is a well-rounded adaptation of the novel. Though the runtime is about 2 hours and 45 minutes, the chilling score and gripping dialogue, as well as interesting subplots to tie the story together, will keep you engaged the entire time. Hopefully, a statement made by Atticus Finch- smaller armies have changed the world– will have you thinking about how you can help your community progress.
Tickets to To Kill a Mockingbird are available on the Kimmel Cultural Campus website here. As the highest-grossing American play in Broadway history, I suspect tickets will disappear quickly. I urge you to see it.