The conversion of my husband to musical theater geek appears to be complete.
For my birthday (Nov 5) we went to the Saints vs. Rams game. The Rams were the only undefeated team left standing this season. Not anymore! Looks like this might be our year, Who Dat Nation!
For Chip's birthday (Nov 10) he decided he was ready for another Broadway trip to NYC. And he practically overdosed us on shows. He bought tickets to five shows in four days.
Then I found out that To Kill a Mockingbird with Jeff Daniels was opening in previews the week we were there. So we flew in a day early to make it six shows in five days. Because I wasn't about to be in New York and miss this play.
I am an avid, unapologetic Mockingbird fan. I re-read the book about once a year. So I probably would've bought tickets if...I dunno...Jim Carrey was playing Atticus, if it meant I was seeing Mockingbird on Broadway.
(Okay, not really, but you got the Dumb & Dumber joke there, right?)
As a bonus, the playwright is Aaron Sorkin, who is hands-down my favorite screenwriter. Is that weird, that I have a favorite screenwriter? Well, not if you know me.
So here are my thoughts on Aaron Sorkin's Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird starring Jeff Daniels.
It wasn't like the book. It wasn't like the movie either. It's the same story; it's just told differently. Which is no surprise given all that I've heard and read about Aaron. (Remind me to tell you the "which 'the'" story and Col Jessup backstory story sometime.) I understand that there had been an injunction by the Lee estate at one point to try to stop the play due to it's deviation from the book. I'm not sure how they worked all that out but I don't think it really strayed that far.
There was an extra character, so maybe that was the estate's complaint. He was added as a witness in the trial who provided some backstory on Tom Robinson. So that was the biggest thing. All three of the kids (Scout, Jem and Dill) were the narrators, instead of Adult Scout. It worked for me. I loved the kid who played Dill (Gideon Glick from Significant Other and Spring Awakening).
Of my two favorite lines, Sorkin saved one and dumped the other. The one he dropped takes place in the courtroom, after the verdict has been read. Atticus collects his papers and leaves out of the back of the courtroom. The black reverend that the kids are sitting with in the balcony says to Scout, "Miss Jean Louise, stand up. Your father's passin'." I'm not sure why Sorkin would omit that poignant moment but maybe it's from the movie and not the book and I'm remembering it wrong?
There's a bit more dissension between Calpurnia and Atticus than I remembered - a lot of it around her disagreement with his insistence that Jem and Scout show respect to everyone, even racists. So maybe Sorkin is deviating from Lee in an attempt to remove the "white savior" element of the story.
The line he kept - he surely had to keep! - takes place in Jem's bedroom when he is passed out injured in the bed. The sheriff asks Scout if she got a look at the man who saved them, and she says, "Why, there he is, Sheriff." and the bedroom door swings closed slightly and behind it stands a man, ghost-white and silent. And Scout says:
Possibly one of my all-time favorite lines from a book ever. (Also how I address my puppy, Thor.)
My only complaint about the play is that I felt like Aaron hit us over the head a bit trying to make the themes meaningful for today. (See above: The Calpurnia-Atticus arguments over how racists should be treated.) That seems unnecessary to me, but maybe it's because I'm more familiar with the themes than the Mockingbird laity. I literally just read a book called Why To Kill a Mockingbird Matters.
My biggest compliment is that Aaron Sorkin did not let his (our mutual) love of words go to waste here. So many well-written lines. I just want to get my hands on a script and highlight the hell outta that thing.
Stay tuned...the show reviews are to come!