Aaron Sorkin’s To Kill A Mockingbird Is Riveting, Haunting at Hollywood Pantages Theatre

To Kill a Mockingbird. Photo credit: Julieta Cervantes

Richard Thomas, who plays Atticus Finch, is delivering a speech in court as he tries to defend Tom Robinson, played by Yaegel T. Welch. It was a moving defense for his client, who was accused of a crime he didn’t commit. There was heart and sadness coming from Thomas’ voice, and it was so impactful that once it was over, the audience applauded loudly. To Kill a Mockingbird at The Hollywood Pantages Theater was exceptional with its dialogue and casting, and Thomas gave it his all during the opening night of the show in Los Angeles.

Based on a classic book by Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird dealt with issues like racism and assault. It was adapted into the 1962 film, which won 3 awards at the Academy Awards. In 2018, it was adapted into a play by Aaron Sorkin, whose credits include The Social Network and Molly’s Game, and the story follows the Finch family in the 1930s South as they experience racism towards black people in their white neighborhood. In the case of Robinson, he was a black man falsely accused of rape towards a white woman, and if he is found guilty, his punishment would be death.

To Kill a Mockingbird. Photo credit: Julieta Cervantes

To Kill a Mockingbird‘s main focus are on Atticus and his kids, and they are the central figures that bring the story together. Thomas absolutely shines as Atticus with his charm and caring side, especially during the court scenes as he defends Robinson. Siblings Scout Finch (Melanie Moore) and Jem Finch (Justin Mark) and their friend Dill Harris (Steven Lee Johnson) are fun to watch as they play off each other humorously. Although Robinson and Calpurnia (Jacqueline Williams) have less time on the stage compared to the Finch family, Sorkin’s version does give them moments to reveal how they’re affected by the trial and racism, and there were moments where the audience gasped aloud at the horror they’re witnessing on the stage.

The play does a wonderful job of balancing the serious and humourous scenes. One moment the audience is laughing with the Finch family, and the next moment they’re scared for Robinson. Thanks to the cast and Sorkin’s dialogue, it was effective and the mood transitioned at appropriate times.

The set is simple yet effective. A few chairs and tables arranged together instantly transformed the audience into a courtroom, and a porch with a window, a door and a bench was instantly the Finch residence.

Aaron Sorkin’s version of To Kill a Mockingbird is poignant, riveting and haunting, and the cast delivers on engaging the audience. Stage performances have been dominated by musicals, but the show is proof that plays can compete and even stand on their own with stellar production, script and acting.

The show is now playing at the Hollywood Pantages Theatre (6233 Hollywood Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90028) until November 27, 2022. It will then head to Segerstrom Center for the Arts (600 Town Center Drive, Costa Mesa, CA, 92626) in Orange County from December 27, 2022 to January 8, 2023.

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