Aaron Sorkin’s popular stage version of Harper Lee’s novel To Kill a Mockingbird, which has been on a protracted Covid-ordered vacation, may not be returning to Broadway after all. Sorkin and director Bartlett Sher are blaming the original principal producer Scott Rudin. The cast and crew were informed of the cancellation of the show late yesterday, according to emails obtained by The New York Times. According to a letter from Sorkin and Sher to The Times, “Scott reinserted himself as producer at the last minute and for reasons that are, frankly, unfathomable to us both, he stopped the play from reopening.”
Naturally, Rudin is the Broadway and Hollywood producer who purportedly stood down from all of his plays, including Mockingbird, in response to claims that he had physically and verbally abused his crew. According to a message that Rudin sent to Sorkin and Sher that The Times was able to get, Rudin explained that the reason he decided “not to bring back TKAM has to do with my lack of faith in the climate for plays next winter.” I don’t think a remount of Mockingbird would have been competitive in the market, Rudin continued. Rudin still holds the rights to the stage adaption even though it was thought that he had stopped participating actively in the play’s production.
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Upon its Broadway debut in 2018, Mockingbird swiftly established itself as one of the most popular shows, earning back its $7.5 million investment in just 19 weeks. Both a West End production and a national tour featuring Richard Thomas as Atticus Finch began in April. According to reports, the Broadway closure won’t have an effect on those productions. Following the 2020 Covid hiatus, the Broadway musical resumed performances in October 2021. In an effort to successfully restart the play, the original actor Jeff Daniels came back as Atticus. He left the show permanently of January, by which time Mockingbird and other Broadway productions were suffering at the box office due to an increase in Covid cases.
On January 16, Mockingbird, starring Greg Kinnear as Atticus at the time, left the Shubert Theatre for what was meant to be a brief break, promising to return to the Belasco this summer. The show was supposed to resume at the Music Box Theater in November if that didn’t happen. Sher and Sorkin expressed their “heartbreak” over the incident in the emails published by The Times, writing that they “mourn the loss of all the jobs — onstage, backstage, and front of house — that just went.” It’s too dangerous, and the downside is too big, Rudin wrote in an email to Sorkin and Sher. I apologies if you were dissatisfied. For the long-term success of the programme, it is the proper choice.