One of the most successful plays in history is playing in Austin this week. Based on Harper Lee’s classic novel, To Kill A Mockingbird opens at Bass Concert Hall on Tuesday, May 8, and will be performed through Sunday, May 14.
Adapted for the stage by Academy Award winner Aaron Sorkin, this new version of Mockingbird stays true to its roots but also showcases a story still relevant for 21st century audiences. The touring production stars Emmy Award winning actor Richard Thomas. While he has played various roles over his 60 year career, older audiences are most likely to recognize him from “The Waltons,” “It” (the made for TV version), and many other television movies from the 80s and 90s. Most recently, he appeared on the series “Ozark.”
Austin.com had the opportunity to chat with another member of the cast: Justin Mark who plays Jem Finch. Here’s what has has to say about the play and his experience with To Kill A Mockingbird.
As this story is just as relevant today as it has always been, what kind of reactions to the play have most affected you?
“It can sometimes be easy to predict how an audience will respond but that’s not true with this play. Reactions vary immensely night to night and that’s interesting to me. I can think of one line that sometimes get a laugh and sometimes gets booed!
It’s when the audience doesn’t know how to react that’s most affected me. That makes me feel proud to be a part of a play that lets people work through these difficult issues.”
What do you think is the most important change Sorkin made to the original context?
“He’s changed the narrative structure to work specifically for theater. It’s not a retelling of the book or the movie on stage. My character Jem along with Scout and Dill acknowledge the audiences and narrate to them and I think that change helps the audience feel like they’re a part of it and not just watching.”
This is quite an accomplished cast you’re a part of. What’s the best part about working with your fellow cast members?
“It’s the best group of people I’ve ever worked on a play with and I feel very lucky. It makes going to the theater every day a joy and I imagine makes the show even better.”
Of course, we couldn’t let him go without talking about Austin. He asked if he’d been to the ATX before and what he’s most looking forward to experiencing while in town. The Portland, Oregon native told us he previously stopped in Austin for just one night during a road trip from Houston to Marfa. I remember dancing (or trying my best to dance) at The White Horse,” he reminisced. “I hope to go back while I’m here.”
Lucky for him, The White Horse survives so here’s hoping he’s able to enjoy a much deserved night of dancing!
Ticket prices for To Kill A Mockingbird start at $35. Buy yours here!
WHAT: To Kill A Mockingbird
WHEN: May 9 through 14, 2023
WHERE: Bass Concert Hall | 2350 Robert Dedman Drive
Photos by Julieta Cervantes.