Scott Rudin Sets Aaron Sorkin’s Broadway ‘Mockingbird’ Free—Somewhat, Report Says
Good news for theatergoers in towns like Buffalo, New York, and Salt Lake City, Utah: To Kill a Mockingbird, the hottest Broadway show of the year may be coming to your town—and much sooner than expected.
After a week of controversy and confusion, a handful of regional theaters have unexpectedly been granted permission to put on writer Aaron Sorkin’s hit adaptation of Harper Lee’s classic novel, according to The Hollywood Reporter. The play, which is currently being performed to sold-out crowds in New York City’s Shubert Theatre, has earned more than $20 million since opening last fall, a remarkable figure. The play’s cast includes Jeff Daniels as virtuous lawyer Atticus Finch.
It’s unusual for a relatively new Broadway hit to be mounted simultaneously at other theaters, even those far from New York, as it can take years for rights to become available. But To Kill A Mockingbird, based on Lee’s Pulitzer Prize-winning 1960 novel, has had a strange trajectory. Starting in the early ’90s, a stage adaptation written by playwright Christopher Sergel was performed in Lee’s hometown of Monroeville, Ala. (Lee died there in 2016 at the age of 89).
Several smaller theaters around the country were slated to perform Sergel’s version in the coming months, but were shut down this week by a cease-and-desist order from Broadway producer Scott Rudin, who’s overseeing the current Mockingbird revival. Rudin, who’s been involved with such hits as The Book of Mormon and Fences, claimed the theaters didn’t have the rights to stage the older version.
Throughout the week, many of those theaters’ members complained via social media, claiming they were smaller community organizations that could be wiped out by legal action. The boos grew radically louder, prompting Rudin on Friday to offer those regional outlets—including Buffalo’s Kavinoky Theatre and Salt Lake City’s Grand Theatre—the chance to perform his hit version instead. Considering how quickly the Broadway performances have sold you, you may want to get your community theater tickets early.