Aaron Sorkin’s ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ Abruptly Cancels Return to Broadway, Blaming Producer Scott Rudin
“To Kill A Mockingbird,” Aaron Sorkin’s stage adaptation of Harper Lee’s beloved coming-of-age novel, will not return to Broadway as previously announced.
A spokesperson for the production declined to comment on the cancellation to Variety. News of the hasty cancelation was first reported by entertainment news outlet Showbiz 411.
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The stage play, which opened on Broadway in 2018, played its final performance at the Shubert Theatre on Jan. 16. At the time, it was reported that the show would reopen in June at the Belasco Theater. The date was later moved to Nov. 2, with the planned venue changing to the Music Box Theater. Now, the play will shut down entirely, according to a report by the New York Times.
In an email obtained by the Times sent Thursday night to the cast and crew of the show, playwright Sorkin and director Bartlett Sher blamed the decision on the show’s original lead producer Scott Rudin. Sorkin and Sher reportedly wrote in the email that Rudin, who backed away from an active role on the show last year after allegations of his abusive behavior toward staff broke, “reinserted himself as producer and for reasons which are, frankly, incomprehensible to us both, he stopped the play from reopening.”
The Times also obtained an email that Rudin sent Sorkin and Sher on Friday, in which the producer credited his decision to concerns regarding the show’s profitability should it reopen later this year.
“The reason I opted not to bring back ‘TKAM’ has to do with my lack of confidence in the climate for plays next winter,” Rudin said in the email. “I do not believe that a remount of ‘Mockingbird’ would have been competitive in the marketplace.”
When “To Kill A Mockingbird” premiered in 2018, it was an immediate financial hit, grossing an average $2 million in ticket sales a week and recouping its investment in 19 weeks. It also received largely positive reviews and was nominated for nine awards at the 2019 Tonys, with Celia Keenan-Bolger winning for her role as Scout Finch. It did end up at the center of controversy after Rudin’s lawyers shut down dozens of community and non-profit productions of a different adaptation of the novel by playwright Christopher Sergel that premiered in 1991, which the producer eventually apologized for.
When the play resumed performances last October, after the Broadway shutdown in March 2020, original star Jeff Daniels returned to the role of Atticus Finch, and the show continued to sell well. However, after Daniels left Jan. 2 in the middle of a downswing for Broadway sales amid the pandemic, grosses for the show went down significantly.
A production of the play opened on London’s West End this March, starring Rafe Spall and Gwyneth Keyworth as Atticus and Scout. In addition, a National U.S tour began in Boston this April. Both productions will remain open as the Broadway production shutters.
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