Past Reviews

Regional Reviews: Washington, D.C.

To Kill a Mockingbird
National Tour
Review by Susan Berlin

Also see Susan's review of Nollywood Dreams

Melanie Moore and Richard Thomas
Photo by Julieta Cervantes
As important and timely as To Kill a Mockingbird was when it opened on Broadway in 2018, the touring production now at the Kennedy Center Opera House in Washington seems even more of the moment. Some of the characters make remarks that once seemed outrageous but now would not be out of place in the more extreme forms of political discourse.

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 For more information on the tour, please visit

By Aaron Sorkin
Based on the novel by Harper Lee
Directed by Bartlett Sher

Scout Finch: Melanie Moore
Jem Finch: Justin Mark
Dill Harris: Steven Lee Johnson
Bailiff: Stephen Elrod
Tom Robinson: Yaegel T. Welch
Horace Gilmer: Luke Smith
Sheriff Heck Tate: David Christopher Wells
Bob Ewell: Joey Collins
Mayella Ewell: Arianna Gayle Stucki
Calpurnia: Jacqueline Williams
Atticus Finch: Richard Thomas
Judge Taylor: Richard Poe
Mr. Roscoe: Greg Wood
Mr. Cunningham: Travis Johns
Miss Stephanie: Liv Booth
Mrs. Henry Dubose: Mary Badham
Link Deas: Anthony Natale
Dill's Mother: Liv Booth
Dr. Reynolds: Greg Wood
Boo Radley: Travis Johns
Ensemble: Morgan Bernhard, Denise Cormier, Christopher R. Ellis, Stephen Elrod, Glenn Fleary, Maeve Moynihan, Daniel Neale, Dorcas Sowunmi, Greg Wood