Skip to main content

For the Broadway Version of the Greatest Book of All Time: “To Kill A Mockingbird”

It is a sin to kill a mockingbird. 

Have more profound words even been written? 

I think not. 

If you need proof all you have to do is read Harper Lee’s infamous novel, watch the movie featuring Gregory Peck, or see the new play on Broadway - as I recently did. 

Each incarnation of this story has their own merits but I do believe it is a rare instance when a film manages to capture the same range of motions as the written word. I plan to rewatch it within the next couple of days.

I love “To Kill A Mockingbird” so much I listed it as part of the books that have impacted my life ( I believe great theater has the ability to do just that, this story, in this setting, with these people, is Broadway at its finest.

There have been mixed reviews about how this story would transfer to the stage but as soon as I heard the screenplay was written by Aaron Sorkin and Atticus Finch would be portrayed by Jeff Daniels, I was sold.

As anyone who has read the book knows, there is perhaps no greater moral authority of all of literature than Mr. Finch. He is both the heart and soul of the story I believe, despite it being told from his daughter’s youthful perception. I don’t know if any actor could have filled that role to the critic’s satisfaction but Mr. Daniels exceeded mine. 

I have been a fan of Jeff Daniels since I watched him on HBO’s “Newsroom”; another Aaron Sorkin production. As for Mr. Sorkin himself he is the genius behind “The West Wing” my favorite television drama of all time. 

The combination of these two brilliant men, in my opinion, managed to bring life to a story that I believe has even more relevance today than it did when it was published. Unfortunately.

I was blown away by the show. I would have preferred there was no intermission and that they continued straight through (this is my preference one hundred percent of the time). Not for one moment did I want to look away from the stage. 

It is worth noting that due to the incredibly popularity of the show, tickets are sold out three to six months in advance and are I think overpriced as all of Broadway is nowadays. 

With that in mind, I had nosebleed seats and still saw everything and more importantly felt everything that I believe Harper Lee intended when she told her story the first time. 

In this version, due to the time constraints, the story is largely focused on the trial of Tom Robinson and the Finch children’s connection to it. At two and a half hours, that should suffice. But I have to say when it came to an end I was sad to let these remarkable characters go once more. Especially when the cast had done such a beautiful job retelling the story. 

The set design was magnificent, although it was constantly moving back and forth between being the Finch house and the courtroom. Speaking of which there was no jury in the courtroom and I found that odd. I suppose it is because we are the real jury in this story. 

Since the subject matter is so intense, it seems there were many light heart moments inserted to bring some comic relief. Most of them were quips from the judge, Judge Taylor, an actor I have long loved - Mr. Dakin Matthews. You might know him as Doug Heffernan’s father from “King of Queens”. I had the pleasure of meeting him after seeing him in “The Best Man” in 2012 ( when he was working alongside “Will & Grace” star Eric McCormack. 

I could have done without any light heart moments but I believe I would be in the minority there. My friend said without them she would have felt suicidal by the play’s end. 

Another famous actor found in this cast, is Mrs. LaTanya Richardson Jackson (AKA Mrs. Samuel Jackson) who played Calpurnia; the Finch’s housekeeper. In the book version she has a much bigger role than she does here, but again I believe it was due to time constraints. Her character also makes some of those quips I just discussed. 

I too have seen Mrs. Jackson on Broadway before. The year was 2014 and she was staring in “A Raisin in the Sun” alongside Denzel Washington ( Another story with heavy material that is still relevant no matter when you see it. 

This past June, Celia Keenan-Bolger, won the Best Featured Actress in a Play, Tony Award for her portrayal of Scout Finch and it was a thousand percent well deserved. I, however, believe Jeff Daniels was robbed at that same awards show when he did not receive the Tony his was nominated for: Lead Actor in a Play.

Once the play was over, as per usual the only thing left on my mind was the stage-door ( The stage-door experience is a long cherished ritual of mine and I have A LOT of autographed playbills in my collection to prove it. 

There was some construction happening in Shubert Alley (adjacent to the theater) and it was closed. That was a conundrum for me because I knew that this theater’s stage-door was in that alley. I have been here before, like in 2012 when I saw “Memphis” ( and got to meet rising star Mr. James Monroe Iglehart. Mr. Iglehart has since gone on to play the genie in “Aladdin” and currently is Marquis de Lafayette and Thomas Jefferson in “Hamilton”. I knew that day he was destined for great things. 

As I walked into the theater before this show started, I was told by Shubert employees that there would be no signings afterward. I was devastated. But because I am me I never take anything at face value. I saw that the barricades were still in their spots, although a bit farther back. I decided to wait until the theater emptied after the show was over just to be sure. Boy I am glad I did!

Celia Keenan snuck right by us in full makeup without stopping, which I was bummed about. La Tanya Jackson and Dakin Matthews went out other exits but because I had already met them both already I didn’t mind. 

But after only a few minutes of waiting Jeff Daniels appeared; sharpie in hand!! 

I was elated!! 

I thanked him for doing this and told him what a great job he did. He was very receptive and tried to get to as many people as he could. Just as I told my fellow patrons around me, kindness goes a long way. Stage-doors are part of the Broadway culture and with rising ticket prices I feel that this is the least actors can do. If we weren’t filling the theaters they wouldn’t have these jobs. Those who still do not participate go on a list of those I will no longer pay to see, no matter how talented they are. Unless you are ill, I expect to see you there. I am not asking for a selfie or anything extra, just your John Hancock. 

Start looking for your tickets now. Come November 5th there will be two major cast changes, that we already know about. The first will be Ed Harris who will be taking over for Jeff Daniels. The second is Nick Robinson (from “Love, Simon”) will be Jem Finch replacing current cast member Will Pullen. There is no news so far about Celia Keenan-Bolger, but after a year of such an intense role it wouldn’t be surprising if she leaves as well. 

While I am sure that these new additions will due a fine job, for me there could never be another Atticus Finch on the Great White Way.

For More Information:


Popular posts from this blog

For Find Out Friday - Why Do Emery Boards Make My Skin Crawl?

You know that sound a fingernail makes when it scratches against a chalkboard?  You know that feeling the sound of that action gives you? I, like most people, hate that sound.  I instantly feel like scrunching my shoulders up to my neck and closing my eyes.  I feel the exact same way when I am using an emery board to file my nails. This annoying sensation has a name: “grima” which is Spanish for disgust or uneasiness. This term basically describes any feeling of being displeased, annoyed, or dissatisfied someone or something.  It is a feeling that psychologists are starting to pay more attention to as it relates to our other emotions.  Emery boards are traditionally made with cardboard that has small grains of sand adhered to them. It is the sandpaper that I believe makes me filled with grima.  According to studies that are being done around the world, it is not just the feeling that we associate with certain things like nails on a chalkboard or by using emery boards

For Find Out Friday - How Do You Milk An Almond?

Despite my affinity for cheese and other dairy products, occasionally (actually a few times a week) I like to go dairy-free.  During those times I rely heavily on my favorite brand of almond milk, as seen in the picture above.  Though I know there is no dairy in this product, I constantly wonder: “how does one milk an almond”? Logically I am aware that no actually “milking” is taking place.  I also know that almond milk can be made at home, although I have zero interest in attempting to make it despite my love of spending time in my kitchen. So, what is the actual process?  How long does it take?  When / where / who was the first to successful develop this product? When talking about this kind of “milk” what we are really talking about is plant juices that resemble and can be used in the same ways as dairy milk. Plant like juice has been described as milk since about 1200 A.D. The first mentions can be found in a Baghdadi cookbook in the thirteenth

For a Doughnut Worthy of Food Network Glory: “Dun-Well Doughnuts”

All because I wanted a Boston creme doughnut. That is how this blog truly began. It was Father’s Day weekend and although I was initially thinking of myself, I knew my father wouldn’t mind having a sweet treat for dessert. Brooklyn is synonymous with great pizza, bread, and of course bagels. But it also has many great bakeries producing some of the most delicious doughnuts you have ever tasted. Just to name a few, there is: Doughnut Plant , Peter Pan Donut & Pastry Shop and Dough .   On the day of my craving, I did what any of us do countless times a day - I opened Google. When I Googled “best Boston creme doughnuts in Brooklyn” Dun-Well Doughnuts appeared high on that list. Intrigued I researched it further and learned that it had won the Canadian  Food Network’s contest called “Donut Showdown” in 2013. That was enough information for me to decide to visit the very next day.  Dun-Well Doughnuts was opened by Dan Dunbar and Christopher Hollowell in December 2011. Despite