It's Today! : MOCKINGBIRD Flies High

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Pat Cerasaro

Few works of literature have exacted the cultural impact in as major a manner as Harper Lee's seminal novel TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD. A timeless tale of growing up, racial prejudice, friendship and familial bonds, the 1960 coming-of-age classic remains one of the most important literary works on the 20th century. Now, a mainstage Broadway adaptation of the lauded property has arrived, ready to introduce the story to a whole new audience.

Ostensibly based upon her own childhood experiences in the Deep South, Lee's novel is rife with astute observations on society and humanity, vividly depicting a cornucopia of disparate personalities in a graceful and elegant manner. An instant hit with both audiences and critics, the text eventually received the Pulitzer Prize for Literature. Hollywood came calling soon after, with Horton Foote adapting the text to a big screen iteration directed by Robert Mulligan and starring Gregory Peck, who took home an Academy Award for Best Actor as a result of his indelible central performance. Subsequently, the novel was adapted by Christopher Sergel for a yearly immersive theatre experience in Lee's hometown of Monroeville, Alabama, beginning in 1990. Of note, the courtroom sequence of the story was performed in the actual Monroe County Courthouse where the action of the novel is set in a fantastic fiction-meets-fact twist.

After a considerable amount of drama in the press earlier this year, with Harper Lee's estate in a bitter battle with producer Scott Rudin over the new Broadway production, a solution was eventually found via an agreed upon settlement in May and the production moved forward. Penned by Academy Award-winning screenwriter Aaron Sorkin, directed by Bartlett Sher, the fresh new version of the novel stars Jeff Daniels along with Celia Keenan-Bolger, Will Pullen, Gideon Glick, Frederick Weller, Gbenga Akinnagbe, Stark Sands, Dakin Matthews, Erin Wilhelmi, Neal Huff, Danny Wolohan and LaTanya Richardson Jackson. 

Receiving a slew of positive reviews following the premiere last night, it seems clear that the time is right for a new take on TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD and Lee's legend lives on, flying high once again