This post is brought to you in partnership with Broadway in Portland. I received complimentary tickets to facilitate my post. Opinions are my own.
I’ve read To Kill a Mockingbird more times than I can count, have integrated the book into my curriculum as a teacher, and even named my daughter Harper after the late-great Harper Lee. So when I heard the theatrical production of one of my ALL-TIME favorite books was coming to Portland, I was overjoyed! An evening that combines two of my most favorite things – literature and theater?!!! YES PLEASE!
And it was every bit as magical as I’d hoped it would be. (Is that any surprise when it’s Academy Award® winner Aaron Sorkin’s adaptation of Harper Lee’s Pulitzer Prize-winning masterwork?!) It’s no wonder To Kill A Mockingbird has been called the most successful American play in Broadway history.
Set in Alabama in 1934, Harper Lee’s enduring story of racial injustice and childhood innocence centers on one of the most venerated characters in American literature, small-town lawyer Atticus Finch. The cast of characters includes Atticus’s daughter Scout, her brother Jem, their housekeeper and caretaker, Calpurnia, their visiting friend Dill, and a mysterious neighbor, the reclusive Arthur “Boo” Radley.
Actors portraying beloved and/or well-known characters from literature and film are often unfairly left with enormous “shoes to fill.” Atticus Finch, Scout, and Boo Radley are names known not only to hard-core lit lovers like myself, but anyone with minimal knowledge of pop culture. And this outstanding cast brought these iconic characters to life in a way that not only met any unfair expectations any theater-goer may have had, but knocked them out of the park. For me, it was almost as if I were meeting dear friends for the first time – seeing some of my favorite characters in a way that made them feel more familiar – almost as if I were with them.
Harper Lee and Aaron Sorkin are incomparable, but I cannot say enough about this cast. Typically, two or three actors will stand out to me. This time – my mental list just kept growing.
You couldn’t help but adore Melanie Moore as Scout from her very first line. She captured all of Scout’s precocious tenacity beautifully. Jem and Dill, Justin Mark and Steven Lee Johnson respectively rounded out the trio of “children” perfectly. It was as if these were the physical embodiments of who Ms. Lee dreamed up when she wrote her book. Portraying a child while an adult is no simple task – and these three incredibly gifted actors were able to capture the innocence of youth and authentically portray the struggle of figuring out who you are, what you stand for, and what you’re going to do about those two things.
My husband, having grown up watching The Waltons every night, was SO excited to see Richard Thomas portray Atticus Finch. He was perfect, and it felt like an honor to watch him act. Mr. Thomas so deftly “sank into Atticus’s skin” allowing us to see what literature’s moral compass would look and sound like brought to life.
Jacqueline Williams as Calpurnia could be described as not only a scene stealer but an audience favorite. In all my experience with this story, I’d never realized before Ms. William’s portrayal of Cal that she is perhaps the other half of Atticus’s moral compass – the voice he needed to hear in order to grow.
Another hidden gem (and my fangirl moment!) amongst this absolutely PHENOMENAL cast was none other than Mary Badham as Mrs. Dubose who played Scout in the well-known feature film!!! Her return to this powerful story lit up my heart in so many ways.
And that’s the thing about To Kill A Mockingbird, it sticks with you. It confronts your integrity, question your beliefs surrounding concepts like “decency” and “respect”, and forces you to wrestle with your ideas about what doing the right thing looks like. Who are you? What do you stand for? And what will you do about those two things?
To Kill a Mockingbird will be in Portland through October 23rd. At time of posting, tickets are still available! Please click HERE to purchase your tickets for this can’t-miss theatrical experience! Remaining showtimes are as follows:
Wednesday, October 19th: 7:30 PM
Thursday, October 20th: 7:30 PM
Friday, October 21st: 7:30 PM
Saturday, October 22nd: 2:00 PM and 7:30 PM
Sunday, October 23rd: 1:00 PM and 6:30 PM
The production is scheduled to play a multi-year national tour across North America. It could be coming to a city near you! For more information, please visit www.tokillamockingbirdbroadway.com
If you are not able to make it to To Kill a Mockingbird this time around, I encourage you to see it the next time it comes to Portland. Tickets are also on sale now for Jagged Little Pill AND Moulin Rouge! The Musical – headed to the Keller Auditorium November 15th-20th 2022 and January 4th-15th 2023 respectively.
For information and to grab your tickets → https://portland.broadway.com/shows/
Broadway in Portland has released their 2022/2023 season! Visit https://portland.broadway.com/ to learn more. (There are some fantastic shows coming this season!)