Theater Commentary: TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD (National Tour)

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by Maddalena Beltrami on November 11, 2022

in Extras,Theater-Regional,Tours


I have been an avid reader my whole life beginning at the age of eight. I can’t remember the exact year that I read Harper Lee’s book, To Kill A Mockingbird, sometime around high school, after which I saw the film. Last night at 65 years old, I saw the play version, directed by Bartlett Sher. The impact that one book had on my life came roaring back watching the extraordinary National Tour production at the Pantages Theater last night. To see the guiding principles of my youth come to life vividly reminded me that those lessons were taught to me at the exact time they needed to be taught. It left me in tearful wonder. Books are powerful and this one most of all. You are what your read. It’s as simple as that. When a mind as young as mine was formed by these basic pillars of justice, racial equality, compassion and empathy, those character traits became forged in steel upon my psyche in such a manner that no parent, peer or politician can ever alter. My dreamer’s wish is that it becomes mandatory reading, in every state from the 8th grade on, but also that the play be seen. It would accomplish the same.

Richard Thomas ('Atticus Finch') and The CompanySteven Lee Johnson ('Dill Harris'), Melanie Moore ('Scout Finch') and Justin Mark ('Jem Finch')

These tenets taught weren’t sparked by the embers of fire-and-brimstone hypocrisy from a pulpit or a campaign whistle stop. They were taught with the most powerful tool in a teacher’s toolbox: humor and wit, both of which can only come from true wisdom. Humor penetrates the young mind best. All of Lee’s characters have lived in me for near fifty years — some emulated, some eschewed, but mold me they did. I’ve often wondered how I came to my beliefs. I was neither raised by racist parents nor had open discussion about equality for all. Last night I found out. It was as if I had encountered an old mentor. Watching the amazing play, adapted by Aaron Sorkin, reminded me of the impact the story’s lessons had on me. The cornerstone of that wisdom was brought to the forefront of my mind last night. Trying to doing the right thing is just as important as doing the right thing. There are times in everyone’s life when one is faced with a situation that goes against their strict moral code.  One must then summon the courage to set that rigid compass aside and instead take a never-traveled path in the dark for a just outcome.

Yaegel T. Welch ('Tom Robinson'), Stephen Elrod, Jacqueline Williams ('Calpurnia')
and Richard Thomas ('Atticus Finch')
Dorcas Sowunmi and Mary Badham, who at ten played Scout in the 1962 film version, is 'Mrs. Henry Dubose'

Sorkin’s adaptation is superb beyond compare. The production is as masterful as it gets. After the performance, I wondered, just who exactly was Harper Lee? I found she was no great author with a stream of best sellers. She wrote only three books. She was simply a woman with a story to tell. To Kill A Mockingbird came from her keen observation of the life around her, crystallized by her heart and soul and mind and distilled by the lessons she was taught. Harper’s brilliance didn’t need a string of hits — the one she got was more than enough for any author’s lifetime.

Jacqueline Williams ('Calpurnia')

To Kill A Mockingbird
national tour
plays Pantages through November 29, 2022
tour continues well into 2023
for cities and dates, visit Mockingbird

Broadway in Hollywood offers a $29 student rush for all remaining performances of Harper Lee’s TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD at Hollywood Pantages Theatre. Performances are now through Sunday, November 27th. Performance times are Tue – Fri at 8pm, 2pm & 8pm on Saturday, and 1pm & 6:30pm on Sunday. Thanksgiving week show schedule: Tue Nov 22nd at 8pm, Wed Nov 23rd at 2pm & 8pm, Fri Nov 25th at 2pm & 8pm, Sat Nov 26th at 2pm & 8pm, and Sun Nov 27th at 1pm. Students may purchase up to TWO (2) tickets at just $29 each. Rush tickets are available beginning two (2) hours prior to curtain. Present your student ID at the box office. Offer is subject to change and subject to availability.

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Sandi Behar November 14, 2022 at 9:00 am

This book was also one of my favorites. Your fantastic article explains why this book has such a profound effect on people. Plus, it makes me really glad I have tickets to see the play this week.


Nancy Maben November 14, 2022 at 9:07 am

What an insightful review of one of the great plays and books of our lifetime! For this reviewer to share with us the impact that it has had on her outlook of life brings it home to all of us. Literature and plays can have such a profound impact on all of us! After reading this review, I am even more excited and looking forward to seeing this production of To Kill A Mockingbird!


Leigh McEwen November 14, 2022 at 3:07 pm

What an informative and insightful review. I not only have read the book but I have seen a staged performance of the play in the past. You not only bring a very personal perspective to the play/performance but make the content so very relevant. I’m looking forward to seeing this new production through fresh eyes and insight. Thank you for your heartfelt opinion and clarity.


Trysette Loosemore November 15, 2022 at 5:56 am

This was a mandatory read for me at school in Australia. I feel I need to see the production now thanks to this wonderful review.


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