Rafe Spall plays literature’s most famous lawyer – Atticus Finch – in a stage adaptation of Harper Lee’s To Kill A Mockingbird.
Finch defends a black man falsely accused of raping a white woman in the segregated South America in the 1930s.
The play, by Oscar-winning writer Aaron Sorkin, was a big hit on Broadway and will be shown at the Gielgud Theater in London’s West End from March next year; almost two years after it originally opened.
Rafe Spall plays literature’s most famous lawyer – Atticus Finch – in a stage adaptation of Harper Lee’s To Kill A Mockingbird
The adaptation won’t be a “ Xerox copy ” of the 2018 Broadway production starring Jeff Daniels (pictured), Aaron Sorkin said.
A first opening date in June had to be postponed due to uncertainty in the sector.
As Cameron Mackintosh, owner of the Gielgud, only noted yesterday, it will be many months before the theater industry can resume anything approaching ‘normalcy’.
He has donated an additional £ 1 million (he gave £ 2 million last year) from his Mackintosh Foundation to the Theater Artists Fund.
Rhys Ifans was set to play Finch, but a commitment conflict forced him to withdraw.
Ed Harris (pictured) took over the role of Daniels before New York theaters went dark
The play, by Oscar-winning writer Aaron Sorkin (pictured), was a big hit on Broadway and will be seen at the Gielgud Theater in London’s West End.
In the play, Finch defends a black man falsely accused of raping a white woman in segregated South America in the 1930s.
When I spoke to Sorkin in Los Angeles, he told me that his blistering adaptation of the 1960 historical novel will not be a “ Xerox copy ” of the Broadway production, which originally played Jeff Daniels in 2018 (Ed Harris took over the role , previously New York theaters went dark.) Sorkin said the London show would be an opportunity to do it ‘all over again, new’.
The book (and the 1962 film, starring Gregory Peck) are revered – although even ardent fans can admit that hateful racism is rampant in the fictional town of Maycomb, Alabama, which Atticus doesn’t acknowledge, because he sees the good in ‘ everything from his friends and neighbors’, as Sorkin put it.
When he first made changes to the sacred tome, he was determined to “not do Harper Lee impersonation.” He didn’t want his play to feel like “a museum play” – it doesn’t.
Harper Lee’s book (and the 1962 film, starring Gregory Peck, pictured) are honored
But in the three years since then, “tectonic things have happened all over the world.” Those sensitivities were already rippling through Sorkin’s work, but in light of events such as the Black Lives Matter protests and the demise of a racist US president, further adjustments may be needed.
“It’s entirely possible that I could sit and watch the rehearsal in London and think something should resonate here,” he told me.
The casting of 38-year-old Spall is a masterpiece. He knows his way around a Southern accent, having played an Alabama prosecutor in Just Mercy. And he is one of the best actors of his generation, with leading stage and film roles (Hot Fuzz!); plus parts in the TV series The Salisbury Poisonings and Trying (starring the amazing Esther Smith), the second season of which runs on Apple TV + from May 14.
Spall knows his way around a southern accent after playing an Alabama prosecutor in Just Mercy
Sorkin, along with the play’s director Bartlett Sher and producer Scott Rudin, made the deal with their leading man in recent days. “I’ll meet him soon at Zoom,” he said.
Sonia Friedman, who produces the show in Gielgud, where the preview will start from March 10, 2022 (with an official opening on March 31), told me there will be education and community initiatives, with 500 tickets available per week for £ 5. £ 10 .
Tickets go on sale from April 6. Existing cardholders will be contacted regarding their bookings, which will be carried over to a new date, plus details of how to exchange and other options.
Jenny Seagrove (in between rehearsals to play Ian McKellen’s mother Gertrude in Hamlet) and Martin Shaw return to the Theater Royal Haymarket for a socially detached four-week run (starting May 19) in AR Gurney’s Love Letters.
The pair gave nine appearances before the third lockdown.
“They were desperate to say goodbye,” producer Bill Kenwright told me.
Jenny Seagrove and Martin Shaw return to The Theater Royal Haymarket for a four-week socially distant run (starting May 19) in AR Gurney’s Love Letters (pictured)
It’s certainly a sign that things are returning as usual, as I’m hearing rumors of high-decibel disagreements behind the scenes of a new musical.
Tears, tantrums. The whole kit and caboodle. I bet the opening dates will shift.
Samantha Barks and Ramin Karimloo will star in a feature film version of Laurence Mark Wythe’s 2006 musical Tomorrow Morning, about a couple’s relationship set on parallel timelines.
Samantha Barks (left) and Ramin Karimloo (right) star in a feature film version of Laurence Mark Wythe’s 2006 musical Tomorrow Morning
Director Nick Winston, who made his screen debut, told me that Barks and Karimloo should live to be ten years old as their stories unfold (and rewind).
A revival of the stage was planned for this year, but Winston and producer John Danbury opted for a big screen version instead, featuring several new songs from Wythe.
Omid Djalili, Fleur East and Harriet Thorpe also star in the film, which will be shot in May and June at locations in Wapping, East London.
Omid Djalili (left), Fleur East (right) and Harriet Thorpe will also star in the film, which will be shot in May and June at locations in Wapping, East London.