The national tour of To Kill a Mockingbird, now playing at Tennessee Performing Arts Center (TPAC) through August 14, is a must-see if only for the richly woven southern threads that still resonate today. The 2018 play — based on the beloved 1960 novel by Harper Lee — has powerful narrative and terrific performances throughout.
Of course, the story follows Atticus Finch (Richard Thomas) as a 1930’s lawyer who defends a black man, Tom Robinson (an earnest Yaegel T. Welch), falsely accused of rape. Narration is split between Atticus’s children: Scout (Melanie Moor) and Jem (Justin Mark) as well as visiting friend Dill (Steven Lee Johnson), all whom deliver gifted performances. Thomas plays the stately, upright Atticus with a softer, meeker bend than predecessors Gregory Peck (in the 1962 film) or Jeff Daniels (in originating the role for Broadway). As such, Thomas gives us a southern gentility both warm and amusing.
Other standout performances include the seedy drunkard Bob Sewell (Joey Collins); truth-teller Calpurnia (Jacqueline Williams); and the elderly Miss Stephanie Dubose (Mary Badham) who sends shivers down the spine when she spews, “Ugly girl!” at little, innocent Scout.
If you can level any criticism to this production, it’s that it runs a tad long (two hours and 35 minutes with a 15-minute intermission). Playwright Aaron Sorkin — charged with restructuring the story for modern audiences — juggles the weighty trial with the children’s fascination for the mysterious neighbor Boo Radley, only, the Boo theme gets overshadowed by the trial portion giving the ending a sort of tagged-on feel. It’s not enough to keep anyone away, and certainly should not keep you from heading to see this masterful work.
BROADWAY AT TPAC presents:
Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird
Aug. 9 – 14
TPAC’S Jackson Hall
505 Deaderick St., Nashville
615-782-4040 | tpac.org
Remaining showtimes: Thu 7:30 p.m., Fri 8 p.m., Sat 2 & 8 p.m., Sun 1 & 6:30 p.m.
Tickets: Starting at $36*
RECOMMENDED FOR AGES 12 AND OLDER.
- Currently, the TPAC website lists no tickets available. Call the box office for possible cancellations.