Reviews Theater

‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ comes to life on Broadway

A playbill for the Broadway show, "To Kill a Mockingbird." (Isabel Slippen/YJI)

NEW YORK – Most people have heard of the book, To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. Many have seen the 1962 movie starring Gregory Peck as the lawyer Atticus Finch. But few people have had the opportunity to see To Kill a Mockingbird on Broadway, which opened in December at the Schubert Theater.
The new play is by Aaron Sorkin and stars Jeff Daniels as Atticus Finch. As someone who read the book several years ago – when I was not quite capable of wrapping my head around the importance of the issues it addresses – to look back and get to see the story play out before my own eyes was absolutely incredible.
To Kill a Mockingbird takes places in Maycomb, Alabama during the 1930s. Maycomb is a small town, where most of the families have lived for generations and eventful situations rarely occur.
When Tom Robinson, a black man, is accused of raping a white woman the town is enraged. People become even angrier when they learn that Atticus Finch, a local lawyer known for his bravery and kindness, will represent Tom in court.
The story is told from the viewpoint of Scout, Atticus’ daughter. She discusses the trial, and how it makes her feel. She also talks about her brother Jem, their friend Dill, their adventures throughout the course of the trial and their interest in the town shut-in, Boo Radley.
The play begins by foreshadow to a few weeks after the trial, when the man who accuses Tom Robinson of raping his daughter is found dead. He is presumed to have accidentally stabbed himself.
This confuses Scout, and she, Jem, and Dill begin to highlight the events leading up to the situation.
This play was unlike any Broadway show I’ve ever seen. It was not a musical, and it discusses extremely important topics while still incorporating humor. This made the show both interesting and enjoyable.
Since the play takes place in southern United States during a time of segregation, racism is extremely apparent. While this play is set more than 80 years ago, some of the major ideas can still be seen in today’s society.
The notion of black men being more likely to have been convicted of a crime than a white person would be, is one example. Tom Robinson is blamed and considered guilty by nearly everyone involved except for Atticus and his family – although there is no real evidence pointing to him. It’s only one man’s words against another, and the words of a white man held far more credibility in that place and time. Unfortunately, in some cases that idea is still present today.
To Kill a Mockingbird also touches on the universal idea of friendship, and the lasting bond that goes along with it.
Scout, Jem, and Dill formed an unbreakable bond that summer and made enough memories to last a lifetime.
In some cases – and this play is one of them – the messages communicated are timeless. No matter how many years pass, you are able to make connections in some way or another.
Isabel Slippen is a Junior Reporter with Youth Journalism International.

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