Richard Thomas, center, plays 1930s Alabama lawyer Atticus Finch in Aaron Sorkin's 2018 adaptation of Harper Lee's

At its best, the latest touring Broadway production of “Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird” finds crackling energy in its dialogue and performances, arcing from actor to actor during scenes of ever-glowing intensity.

This “To Kill a Mockingbird,” which runs Jan. 24 through Feb. 5 at the Buell Theatre, was not a parade of high points on Tuesday night. Written by award-winning TV/film veteran Aaron Sorkin (“The West Wing,” “Molly’s Game”), and directed by revival-king Bartlett Sher (“Fiddler on the Roof,” “My Fair Lady”), it takes too many pains to prove its relevance. The still-potent impact of the racial slurs, and the uneasy laughter and throat-clearing of the nearly all-white audience during Black actors’ dialogue, announced that ably.

And yet, in an era where some try to justify police killings of innocent Blacks, or see the 2020 George Floyd protests as the province of vandals, the subject matter bears revisiting. Sorkin’s normally snappy dialogue addresses it with an avalanche of windy sermons and wise quotes. They invariably begin with a sigh, followed by “You know, they say … .”

The conclusions: The Civil War never ended. Poverty is relative. Kids — at least if they grow up to be Truman Capote (on which author Harper Lee based young character Dill) — can be insightful. Monsters don’t deserve your pity — and they’re everywhere.

Maycomb, Ala., lawyer Atticus Finch (Richard Thomas) is confidently naive about this at first, clinging to the idea that his townspeople are good at heart but driven by fear and prejudice amid the Great Depression. He’s in no hurry to show them the light. He must be coaxed by Judge Taylor (David Manis) to take on the criminal case of Tom Robinson (Yaegel T. Welch), a Black man who’s been accused of raping a 19-year-old white woman, Mayella Ewell (Arianna Gayle Stucki). Her contemptible father, Bob (Joey Collins), casts a pall over the proceedings, although no one but Atticus is brave enough to confront him.

Richard Thomas, center, plays 1930s Alabama lawyer Atticus Finch in Aaron Sorkin’s 2018 adaptation of Harper Lee’s “To Kill a Mockingbird.” (Julieta Cervantes, provided by Denver Center)

The story is faithful in broad strokes to the book and 1962 film, but Scout Finch (Melanie Moore) is no longer the only young narrator. Brother Jem Finch (Justin Mark) and neighbor Dill Harris (Steven Lee Johnson) take turns driving and explaining the story as the trio prowls the stage. It’s …read more

Source:: The Denver Post – News


Aaron Sorkin’s “To Kill a Mockingbird” crackles with energy, but struggles to focus

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