In spite of earlier promises, Aaron Sorkin’s stage version of Harper Lee’s classic coming-of-age novel “To Kill a Mockingbird” will not be returning to Broadway. When asked by Variety why the production had been canceled, a spokesman declined to respond. The cancellation was announced initially by Showbiz 411, a website dedicated to the entertainment industry.
Productions of the play ended on January 16 at the Shubert Theatre, where it premiered in New York City in 2018. It was announced at the time that the play would return to the Belasco Theater in June. The event was originally scheduled for October 19 but was postponed until November 2 at the Music Box Theater. According to a story in the New York Times, the show will now be permanently closed.
The Times has obtained an email sent to the cast and crew of the show on Thursday night in which playwright Sorkin and director Bartlett Sher blame the production’s original principal producer, Scott Rudin, for the decision. Rudin, who had stepped aside from the show last year after allegations of his aggressive behavior toward workers leaked, “reinserted himself as producer and for reasons which are, frankly, inexplicable to us both,” Sorkin and Sher reportedly said in the email.
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According to an email acquired by The New York Times, Rudin explained his decision to cancel the show in an email he addressed to Sorkin and Sher on Friday. “The reason I elected not to bring back ‘TKAM’ has to do with my lack of trust in the climate for plays next winter,” Rudin wrote in an email. A remount of “Mockingbird” would not, in my opinion, have fared well at the box office.
Upon its release in 2018, “To Kill a Mockingbird” became a huge financial success, earning back its production budget in just 19 weeks with weekly ticket sales of $2 million. It was well-received by critics and audiences alike, and Celia Keenan-Bolger won the Tony for her portrayal of Scout Finch. Rudin’s attorneys put down dozens of community and non-profit productions of a different adaptation of the novel by playwright Christopher Sergel that premiered in 1991, sparking controversy for which Rudin finally issued an apology.
After a March 2020 Broadway hiatus, performances of the play resumed in October with original actor Jeff Daniels reprising his role as Atticus Finch, and the musical has been a financial success ever since. Unfortunately, the show’s gross declined dramatically after Daniels left on January 2. This was during a period of declining Broadway sales due to the pandemic.
Atticus Finch, featuring Rafe Spall and Gwyneth Keyworth as Atticus and Scout, premiered on London’s West End this past March. Furthermore, in April of this year, they kicked out a nationwide tour in the United States, starting in Boston. Since the Broadway play is closing, both shows will continue to run.