Regional Reviews: Albuquerque/Santa Fe
To Kill a Mockingbird
Also see Carla's recent review of A Tuna Christmas
For all that, the first national tour, now at Popejoy Hall, of the 2018 Broadway production of Academy Award winner Aaron Sorkin's adaptation of To Kill a Mockingbird, directed by Tony winner Bartlett Sher, is splendid. It's well staged and performed, and was very much appreciated by the audience at Tuesday, December 13th's opening night.
The Broadway production played a total of 671 performances, many of them at sold-out capacity, until everything shut down in March 2020 due to COVID-19. On February 26, 2020, it became the first-ever Broadway play to perform at New York's Madison Square Garden, in front of approximately 18,000 New York City public school students–the largest attendance at a single performance of a play in modern times.
Set in Alabama in 1934, this entwining of racial injustice and childhood innocence pivots on the principles of one of the most respected characters in American literature: Maycomb, Alabama, lawyer Atticus Finch. The cast of characters includes Atticus's daughter Scout, her brother Jem, their housekeeper Calpurnia, their new friend Dill, and their mysterious neighbor, the reclusive Arthur "Boo" Radley. Other memorable residents are Tom Robinson, Bob Ewell, Mayella Ewell, prosecutor Horace Gilmer, and Judge Taylor.
In this adaptation, we see Yaegel T. Welch (joining the tour from the original Broadway production) as a sharper Tom Robinson, one not as inclined to worship Atticus Finch–the quintessential paragon of all that is good and fair–as performed by now salt-and-pepper haired, but otherwise timeless, Richard Thomas. The Emmy Award-winning actor known for his performance as "John-Boy" in the iconic television series "The Waltons," has a slew of Broadway, Off-Broadway, and regional theatre credits. Atticus' daughter Scout, played by Melanie Moore, season eight winner of "So You Think You Can Dance," is still the Scout of the movie–questioning and passionate. Her early adolescence is charming and innocent with a growing desire to understand the adult world.
Jacqueline Williams (Calpurnia) is a multiple-award winner in a performing career of over 55 years. Her Off-Broadway credits include the internationally acclaimed production of From the Mississippi Delta (Phelia/Woman Two) co-produced by Oprah Winfrey. Arianna Gayle Stucki (Mayella Ewell) is making her professional debut in To Kill a Mockingbird after recently gaining her MFA from The Juilliard School. Justin Mark (Jem Finch) is another Juilliard alumnus has also appeared on "Gotham" and other television shows.
Mrs. Henry Dubose (a smaller supporting role) is played by Mary Badham, who at the age of 10 played the role of Scout in the feature film of To Kill a Mockingbird, which starred Gregory Peck, earning an Oscar nomination for her performance. At that time, she was the youngest person ever nominated for a supporting role. Since then, she has promoted the book and film's message about social injustice across the United Stated and received a U.S. Speaker and Specialist Grant to participate in programs about To Kill a Mockingbird in Russia.
Aaron Sorkin's stage adaptation holds true I think, to the focus of author Harper Lee debut novel. The "us and them" circumstances have not changed; neither has the bias and ignorance portrayal of poor whites vs the enlightened educated whites. Blacks endure, though not as quietly as before a seemingly endless host of injustices, their only salvation still, despite the hint of possible future change, in the hands of the white man.
To Kill a Mockingbird runs through December 18, 2022, at Popejoy Hall, 203 Cornell Dr, Albuquerque NM. Ticket prices start at $39.00. Performance times are Wednesday - Friday at 7:30 p.m., Saturday at 2:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m., Sunday at 1:00pm and 6:30 p.m. For tickets and information, please visit the UNM Bookstore Ticket Office (2301 Central Avenue Northeast, Albuquerque NM) Monday-Friday at 11 a.m. - 5.pm., call 505-925-5858 or 877-664-8661, or visit PopeJoyPresents.evenue.net. For more information on the tour, visit tokillamockingbirdbroadway.com/tour/.
Popejoy Hall is the premier performing arts center in New Mexico. Seating up to 1985 patrons, Popejoy is the largest multi-purpose venue in the state. It is located on The University of New Mexico campus on the corner of Redondo and Cornell in the Center for the Arts building. Please note: the best entrance for those using the Cornell Parking Structure is the new campus entrance at Princeton Drive. Attendants will no longer accept payment at the entrance to the structure. Once you've parked, note your parking stall number. Go to a pay station. There are two on every level. Enter your stall number and your payment. To pay in cash, go to the third level where there are two cash machines. However, those machines do not dispense change.