‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ coming to Salt Lake City
SALT LAKE CITY — “To Kill a Mockingbird” is a story most are familiar with because of the beloved book and film. Now, the Broadway touring company is coming to the Eccles Theatre with the Tony award-winning production.
“When I was a boy, my father gave me one of those air rifles.”
A defense attorney addresses the jury in the courthouse of a small Alabama town.
The iconic American novel by Harper Lee now has a new life on stage.
Richard Thomas, popular stage and screen actor, plays Atticus Finch in “To Kill a Mockingbird.”
Like most of us, the book was required reading for him as a young teen, but to prepare for this role, he says he decided to reread it.
“Read ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ as an adult, and if you’re a parent, even more so; it’s a wonderful book. It’s not a kid’s book, and when you read it as an adult, you realize that,” Thomas said.
When asked why it’s important for him, at this time in his career, to do this role, he said, “The reinvigorating of the social justice movement and racial justice movement has made this play particularly exciting and personally exciting for me. It would always be a good time to take ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ around the country, but now’s a particularly good time, I think.”
Addressing the jury, Atticus continues the story and explains the reason for the title. His Daddy said, “To always remember it was a sin to kill a mockingbird, a sin.”
There are some notable differences from the 1960 book and 1962 film. In Aaron Sorkin’s play, adult actors perform the roles of the children, as they tell the story, and Calpurnia, the housekeeper, has a larger role. Plus, Thomas says, Atticus comes off his pedestal.
“Now, the story is as much about Atticus’s loss of innocence as much as it is the children’s loss of innocence,” he said. “It allows me to give the audience a flesh and blood person they can relate to and with whom they can go hand-in-hand along the story.”
And then, Atticus finishes the story.
“He said it was because they were innocent, and I became a lawyer.”
Thomas hopes audiences are first entertained before they are touched by these performances.
“It’s the spoonful of sugar that helps the medicine go down,” he said laughing. “But I think that theatre, at its best, is a sort of empathy machine. It’s a communal experience where we share what it means to be human.”
This story, Richard Thomas said, is one we must never forget.
“To Kill a Mockingbird” runs for eight performances at the Eccles Theatre in downtown Salt Lake City, starting on Tuesday, Sept. 6th.
For ticket information, click here.
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