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To Kill a Mockingbird

A must see.

To Kill a Mockingbird written by Harper Lee and now a play by the talented Aaron Sorkin is at the Kennedy Center. Sorkin has written this play so you think not only about the original book, but how it relates to life today. It is riveting.

The play centers on Atticus Finch’s attempts to prove the innocence of Tom Robinson, a black man who has been wrongly accused of raping a white woman in 1930s Alabama. “It is set in the fictional town of Maycomb, Ala., during the Great Depression. The protagonist is Jean Louise (“Scout”) Finch, an intelligent and unconventional girl who ages from six to nine years old during the course of the novel. She and her brother, Jem, are raised by their widowed father, Atticus Finch, a prominent lawyer who encourages his children to be empathetic and just. When Tom Robinson, a Black man, is falsely accused of raping Mayella Ewell, a white woman, Atticus agrees to defend him despite threats from the community. Although Atticus’s defense is strong, Tom is convicted, and he is later killed while trying to escape custody. A character compares his death to “the senseless slaughter of songbirds,” which echoes Atticus’s comment to his children that it is “a sin to kill a mockingbird.” Many think the mockingbird represents innocence and this play shows the end of Atticus Finch and Scout’s innocence when Tom Ewell is also killed and we see theirs and the Judge and Sheriff’s reactions to the murder. 

Melanie Moore and Jacqueline Williams
Melanie Moore and Jacqueline Williams  Photo by Julieta Cervantes

While the play takes place in the 1930s in Alabama it can be understood through what is happening in our country today. When you leave the theater, you might be haunted about what happened in the 1930s, but if you are honest with yourself, you will think deeply about your feelings and recognize racism still permeates our society today. 

The play is directed to perfection by Bartlett Sher and is brilliantly acted. Melanie Moore as Scout is incredible. Richard Thomas as Atticus Finch makes you sit up straighter and listen intently, especially to his disturbing closing argument in the trial. While I can’t mention them all, each and every cast member is immensely talented. Jaqueline Williams as Calpurnia is riveting when she speaks. Justin Mark is the perfect Jem as is Steven Lee Johnson the perfect Dill. You listen when they speak. Joey Collins as Tom Ewell makes you hate him which is exactly what his role calls for and Arianna Gayle Stucki as his daughter Mayella Ewell makes you mad and sad at the same time. Yaegel T. Welch as Tom Robinson is perfect. Richard Poe as Judge Taylor and David Christopher Wells as Sheriff Heck Tate give you hope there were some decent people, even in this terrible community.

The creative team has done a superb job in every way allowing you to focus on the story and the characters. The sets and costumes are all totally believable. The team includes Miriam Bluether set designer; Ann Roth costume designer; Jennifer Tipton lighting designer and Scott Lehrer sound designer.

To Kill a Mockingbird is at the Kennedy Center Opera House until July 10th. Order your tickets today! This show is selling out, as it should. Bring your entire family including your older children who you think can understand this important story.