Everything you need to know about ‘To Kill A Mockingbird’ in London
All rise for the newest West End play, To Kill A Mockingbird. Following a rape case in southern America as told through the eyes of a child, To Kill A Mockingbird is often considered one of the best books ever. Now, after record-breaking performances on Broadway, the stage adaptation of Harper Lee’s novel transfers to London, thereby extending its court session.
Adapted by Aaron Sorkin and directed by Bartlett Sher, To Kill A Mockingbird will go down as one of the greatest stage adaptations of the 21st century. Get ready for the London production before it opens at the Gielgud Theatre.
What is To Kill A Mockingbird about?
Although the stage adaptation of To Kill A Mockingbird is written by Aaron Sorkin, the play stays true to the Harper Lee novel. Set in Maycomb, Alabama in 1934, audiences meet Atticus Finch, a lawyer who is tasked with his latest court case. He’s tasked with representing and defending Tom Robinson, a black man who faces trial on rape charges.
Rather than telling the story through Finch’s point of view, To Kill A Mockingbird is told through Finch’s daughter Scout’s eyes. A tale of racial injustice and childhood innocence, the American fiction is rooted in Lee’s family upbringing, with the character of Atticus Finch based on Lee's father. However, Atticus Finch is commonly deemed to be one of the greatest fictional characters of all time.
When did To Kill A Mockingbird premiere?
Unlike the majority of Broadway shows, To Kill A Mockingbird made its world premiere cold on Broadway. Performances began on 1 Nov. 2018, ahead of an opening night at the Shubert Theatre on 13 Dec. 2018, with the show currently suspended due to the Coronavirus pandemic.
The London transfer of To Kill A Mockingbird was announced a year into the Broadway run. The production was originally scheduled to open at the Gielgud Theatre in spring 2020, but was postponed due to Coronavirus. Currently, To Kill A Mockingbird will now make its London premiere on 31 Mar. 2022, with previews from 10 Mar. 2022.
Who wrote To Kill A Mockingbird?
The original To Kill A Mockingbird novel is written by Harper Lee. Although she has only published two books, her contribution to American literature is undeniable. In 1961, Lee won the Pulitzer Prize for Mockingbird, later awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Her second and final novel was published in 2015, with Go Set a Watchman considered to be an earlier, rough draft of Mockingbird.
The stage adaptation of To Kill A Mockingbird is written by Aaron Sorkin. He’d previously written the Broadway plays The Farnsworth Invention and A Few Good Men, but is perhaps best known for writing The West Wing and The Social Network.
Who is in the cast of To Kill A Mockingbird?
The West End cast of To Kill A Mockingbird will star Rafe Spall as Atticus Finch. No stranger to London plays, his recent credits include Death of England at the National Theatre, Hedda Gabler and Constellations.
Further casting is to be announced.
What theatre in London is To Kill A Mockingbird playing at?
To Kill A Mockingbird will play at the Gielgud Theatre. Opened as a pair with the Sondheim Theatre, the Gielgud Theatre has been home to star-studded productions, including Les Miserables: The All-Star Staged Concert, The Ferryman and the first gender-swapped production of Company.
What is the running time of To Kill A Mockingbird?
The Broadway production of To Kill A Mockingbird runs for 2 hours and 25 minutes, including a 15 minute interval.
What are the reviews of To Kill A Mockingbird?
West End reviews of To Kill A Mockingbird are not yet known, but judging by the Broadway production, critics are bound to be astounded. In a review for New York Theatre Guide, Mark Shenton said: “Aaron Sorkin and his director Bartlett Sher stage it primarily as a scorching courtroom drama, folding it seamlessly with scenes from Finch's home life as his two worlds collide. Given the rise of white nationalism, a lot of this feels very current. But it also makes for gripping, seriously absorbing theatre.”
But is this production delivering an Atticus Finch for our times? The Guardian’s Alexis Soloski seems to think so, saying: “Sorkin has structured the play around the courtroom drama, which gives the action force and drive… [Daniels] is convincing and often moving as a man freighted with ideals the rest of the world doesn’t recognize.”
In a Variety review, Marilyn Stasio complimented how Finch and Scout are portrayed: “This play belongs to Atticus Finch. He holds the stage and he wins our love. When he’s robbed of his faith in his fellow man, it’s hard to believe he’ll be able to go on. But Scout — the nightingale — is the heart of the book and although she’s lost her innocence, we know she’ll go on.
Is the play adaptation guilty of defaming the original book? The New York Times’ Jesse Green declares To Kill A Mockingbird is “not guilty… far from devaluing the property as a moneymaking machine, it has created an honorable stream of income that should pour into the estate’s coffers for years to come”.
What awards has To Kill A Mockingbird won?
Although To Kill A Mockingbird was nominated for nine Tony Awards, the Broadway community was shocked that it wasn’t nominated for Best New Play. Irregardless, the play has definitely made its Broadway presence known, and will be staying around for a while. Here’s all the major awards To Kill A Mockingbird has been nominated for, with wins in bold.
Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Play - Jeff Daniels
Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Play - Gideon Glick
Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Play - Celia Keenan-Bolger
Best Original Score - Adam Guettel
Best Direction of a Play - Bartlett Sher
Best Scenic Design of a Play - Miriam Buether
Best Costume Design of a Play - Ann Roth
Best Lighting Design of a Play - Jennifer Tipton
Best Sound Design of a Play - Scott Lehrer
What are some fun facts about To Kill A Mockingbird?
The Broadway production broke box office records, grossing over $1.5 million for one week of performances.
The 1960 film is rooted in Broadway too. The film premiered at Radio City Music Hall.
The role of Atticus Finch on Broadway has so far been played by Jeff Daniels, Ed Harris and Greg Kinnear.
How do I get tickets for To Kill A Mockingbird?
To Kill A Mockingbird tickets are on sale from 6 Apr. 2021.
Photo credit: Cast of To Kill A Mockingbird (Photo by Julieta Cervantes)