In a world filled with books, there are precious few that can bridge generational gaps and foster dinner table conversations between a teen and a 75-year-old. “To Kill a Mockingbird” is one such timeless masterpiece. It holds a revered place in the literary canon, with the Library of Congress ranking it second only to the Bible in terms of its impact on people’s lives. Now, Aaron Sorkin’s adaptation of this beloved novel is gracing the stage at Kansas City’s Music Hall Tuesday, Oct. 24 through Oct. 29.
Set against the backdrop of Maycomb, a small town in Alabama, “To Kill a Mockingbird” follows the story of widowed lawyer Atticus Finch, who courageously confronts the scourge of racism. He takes up the defense of Tom Robinson, a black man wrongly accused of raping a white woman.
Prepare to be intrigued, as Sorkin’s play adaptation holds some surprises that deviate from Harper Lee’s novel and the iconic 1962 film featuring Gregory Peck. While the core plot remains intact, Atticus Finch is portrayed as a more complex, imperfect man.
This production of “To Kill a Mockingbird” began its journey in November 2018 but was abruptly halted in March 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It resumed performances in October 2021 and is now making its mark in Kansas City with veteran actor Richard Thomas taking on the pivotal role of Atticus Finch in the national tour.
Behind the scenes, the production boasts a stellar creative team, including Miriam Buether for set design, Ann Roth for costumes, Jennifer Tipton for lighting, Scott Lehrer for sound, and an original score by Adam Guettel. This national tour is produced by none other than Barry Diller. Notably, “To Kill a Mockingbird” holds the record for the largest attendance at a single performance of a play, with 18,000 public school students attending a 2020 production at New York’s Madison Square Garden.
The ensemble cast includes Scout Finch, her brother Jem, their housekeeper and caretaker Calpurnia, their inquisitive friend Dill, and the enigmatic and reclusive neighbor, Arthur “Boo” Radley.
Maeve Moynihan, who plays Scout Finch, insightfully notes, “Obviously, the book we all know, and love, and the film also has a place in our culture. But the play, with it being a live event, there is nowhere to go, you have to sit there, and you have to take in these words and really let them affect you, you can’t press pause, you can’t walk away for a second, put the book down.”
Depending on when you first encountered “To Kill a Mockingbird,” different characters and conflicts may have left an indelible mark on you. Sorkin’s play promises to be no different, offering a fresh perspective on this classic narrative.
The play is sure to transcend age barriers, making it a compelling experience for those aged 12 and up. A word of caution, though: this production contains racially explicit language and costuming, references to sexual abuse, and brief gunfire audio.
For those looking to witness this theatrical gem, the Music Hall at the Municipal Auditorium in Kansas City will host performances from October 24 to 29, 2023, as follows:
Tuesday, October 24, 2023, at 7:30 p.m.
Wednesday, October 25, 2023, at 7:30 p.m.
Thursday, October 26, 2023, at 7:30 p.m.
Friday, October 27, 2023, at 7:30 p.m.
Saturday, October 28, 2023, 2:00 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.
Sunday, October 29, 2023, 1:00 p.m. and 6:30 p.m.
“To Kill a Mockingbird” has never lost its power to captivate and provoke thought, and Aaron Sorkin’s adaptation breathes new life into an enduring classic, promising a memorable evening at the theater.
It’s made possible, in part, by PNC Banks.