Regional Reviews: Washington, D.C.
To Kill a Mockingbird
Also see Susan's review of Nollywood Dreams
Aaron Sorkin has crafted an elegant adaptation of Harper Lee's Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, allowing the scenes to flow as the childhood memories of Scout Finch (Melanie Moore). Youthful adult performers Moore, Justin Mark (Scout's brother Jem), and Steven Lee Johnson (their loquacious friend Dill Harris) give dead-on performances, never trying to "play young," as they step into and out of the action while also trying to make sense of the past.
Atticus Finch is one of the most famous and beloved characters in American literature: a small-town lawyer in 1930s Alabama who takes on a Black man as a client. Richard Thomas' performance crystallizes the man and his contradictions: honorable, determined to see the best in everyone, but prepared to confront those who would put racial hatred ahead of the truth.
Director Bartlett Sher's artistic vision comes to life on Miriam Buether's ingenious set, where pieces of furniture and overhangs appear and disappear as needed, fitting together like parts of a puzzle. Scott Lehrer has created a subtle background of nature sounds, while Jennifer Tipton's lighting design helps delineate individual locations on the broad stage.
Other standouts are Yaegel T. Welch as the wrongly accused Tom Robinson; Jacqueline Williams as the self-possessed Finch housekeeper Calpurnia, whom Atticus treats as an equal; Anthony Natale (a deaf actor, as on Broadway) as Tom's employer; Arianna Gayle Stucki as haunted Mayella Ewell; and Joey Collins as Bob Ewell, a destitute white man who lashes out at anyone he considers beneath himself. A small grace note is the casting of Mary Badham, who played Scout in the 1962 film version, as Atticus' cantankerous neighbor Mrs. Henry Dubose.
To Kill a Mockingbird runs through July 10, 2022, in the Opera House at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, 2700 F St. NW, Washington DC. For tickets and information, please call 800-444-1324 or 202-467-4600 or visit www.kennedy-center.org. For more information on the tour, please visit tokillamockingbirdbroadway.com/tour/.
By Aaron Sorkin