澳门6合开奖结果

ARTS

'To Kill a Mockingbird' is a riveting stage update of Harper Lee's classic story

Susan McDonald
Special to The Journal

It鈥檚 an ugly subject, born of America鈥檚 greatest failure, but when a Depression-era Alabama lawyer鈥檚 spirit crumbles as his Black client is convicted of a crime he did not commit, the humanity and compassion are palpable and somehow uplifting.

This pivotal moment occurs in a rowdy courtroom scene in the second act of 鈥淭o Kill A Mockingbird,鈥 the touring Broadway production that opened at the on Tuesday. Adapted from Harper Lee鈥檚 Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, the show brings the ugliness and divisiveness of racism to a head in a way that feels simultaneously discouraging and empowering.

Credit the unmatched skills of two men 鈥 actor Richard Thomas, best known as John-Boy in the 1970s television show 鈥淭he Waltons,鈥 who plays attorney Atticus Finch first with aw-shucks Southern charm and then painful resignation; and Aaron Sorkin, whose reworking of the book and its 1962 film version updates the characters鈥 roles and infuses a wonderful level of humor when possible so that the story feels refreshed decades later.

Richard Thomas, left, as Atticus Finch, and Yaegel T. Welch, as Tom Robinson, in the national tour of "To Kill a Mockingbird," at Providence Performing Arts Center through Feb. 11.

The riveting 2陆-hour production, directed by Bartlett Sher, sets the focus on Atticus instead of his daughter, Scout, who was Lee鈥檚 narrator. In doing so, the stage version also humanizes Atticus, allowing the audience to absorb the magnitude of his disappointment and disgust at neighbors who refuse to consider that a white family might be lying about a Black man committing a crime.

鈥淎 Black man can鈥檛 feel sorry for a white woman?鈥 Atticus muses after the prosecutor blasts defendant Tom Robinson, questioning why he did odd jobs for the white woman who later accused him of rape. 鈥淗e doesn鈥檛 know his place!鈥

澳门6合开奖结果:'To Kill a Mockingbird' update takes Atticus 'off the pedestal,' says star Richard Thomas

The trial is backwoods and brutal, and ends with a guilty verdict despite Atticus鈥 work proving Tom could not have committed the crime due to a childhood injury. The driving force of racism 鈥 which sees hooded men threatening Atticus in the weeks leading up to the trial 鈥 shreds his sense of justice and humanity, as his children and their friend watch helplessly.

To buoy the audience through the heavy thump of the show鈥檚 messages, the show repurposes Scout, older brother Jem and their friend Dill to provide innocence and comic relief. The three walk freely through the courtroom like invisible observers and speak directly to the audience, often punctuating serious moments with youthful observations like, 鈥淎nd that is what鈥檚 called exculpatory evidence!鈥

Mary Badham, who played Scout in the 1962 film version of "To Kill a Mockingbird," plays Mrs. Henry Dubose in the touring cast of Aaron Sorkin's stage adaptation.

鈥淭o Kill a Mockingbird鈥 is a vital piece of theater, not only because the scourge of racism persists in our world, but because the spirit of the good people at the heart of the story is so compelling and pure.

Thomas delivers a performance that blends a little of John-Boy鈥檚 small-town sensibility and goodness with the angst of a broken man. He teaches his children that 鈥渢here鈥檚 goodness in everyone,鈥 then struggles to see that himself as Tom is led away for execution. It is, perhaps, the role of a lifetime for the talented actor.

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He is surrounded by younger actors whose compelling performances create the full-picture look at humankind鈥檚 failures that Lee and Sorkin envisioned. Scout Backus鈥 portrayal of tomboy Scout, Justin Mark鈥檚 interpretation of Jem and Steven Lee Johnson鈥檚 antsy Dill are wholesome and pure, giving sharp contrast to the scenes they witness.

Less pure is the spirit of prosecutor Horace Gilmer, who is played to ferocious perfection by Christopher Ellis. At one point in the courtroom, Atticus, the judge, the victim鈥檚 father and Gilmer are screaming, but the audience only hears Ellis, whose delivery is sharp and venomous.

鈥淭o Kill a Mockingbird鈥 is an American story, and while the ending is tragic, the undercurrents the actors and Sorkin offer in this production instill hope.

"To Kill a Mockingbird" runs through Feb. 11 at Providence Performing Arts Center, 220 Weybosset St. Tickets are $59-$119. For more information, call (401) 421-2787 or go to .