If you are in New York City and wanted to see a play, you should reach into your mind for that bag of nostalgia and choose To Kill a Mockingbird on Broadway.
Atticus Finch, Scout, Boo Radley, and Thomas Robinson. All words that have been etched into the halls of history by Harper Lee in her social commentary of the 1930s, with a harshly, unapologetic plotline.
If you haven’t read it by now, you should probably go grab your friend’s Kindle. This novel has been remade into different iterations countless numbers of times all centering around the small, fictional town of Maycomb, Alabama.
The tireless narrative of trying to make something new from something has been exhausted; however, Aaron Sorkin has different plans. Writer and producer Aaron Sorkin (notably, The Newsroom and The Social Network) envisioned a take on Harper Lee’s brilliance in his own way.
It was a cast filled with brilliant actors who were to take the solemn tone that was the backbone of the original novel and sprinkle in humor to defuse tensions that would be naturally created within any one watching it in the audience.
With an amazing stage design and a stellar cast, he was able to portray his own version of the “Tired Old Town’s” people and landscape. But how did he channel this on stage? Through none other than Jeff Daniels, himself.
Actor Jeff Daniels (notably The Newsroom) was already working with Sorkin. Taking one of HBO’s most powerful shows and delving deep into the mind of its writer.
Upon entrance, as you could probably guess, he was met with a LOUD ovation…and his performance did not falter. He took the stage, his presence felt, words heard, and his actions seen.
He commanded the audience, through the lens of Atticus Finch (not a perfect man) but a model of the progression of civilization and society that Lee saw through her eyes.
The most interesting aspect was the timing of this production.
As our polarized world hurdles into an uncertain future, one thing remains constant, there are two sides to a story, two sides to a problem, but we, as a people, cannot seem to meet in the middle.
More so than the production itself, Sorkin decided to add his own social commentary, not just by creating a screenplay that was adaptable to all audiences, but by releasing at a time in history when we are unstable. I couldn’t love that idea more if I tried.
Thank you, Mr. Sorkin, and thank you, Jeff Daniels, for bringing a timeless masterpiece to life one more time.