Aaron Sorkin, a writer and producer whose works include “A Few Good Men” and hit TV show “West Wing,” is putting his own spin on “To Kill a Mockingbird” for a play that will bring the book that rocked America to Broadway for the first time.
Author Harper Lee won the 1960 Pulitzer Prize for penning the novel about racial injustice in the deep South.
Oddly, it’s been adapted for the big screen, the regional stage in various U.S. cities and as a West End production in London. But it has never appeared on Broadway.
All that will change during the 2017-2018 season, according to Producer Scott Rudin.
The book has been required reading in high schools and colleges almost since it was written. It was made into a classic movie in 1962, starring Gregory Peck, as lead character, Atticus Finch.
Finch works as a lawyer and is the father of daughter Jean Louise “Scout” Finch, played by Mary Badham and son Jeremy Atticus “Jem” Finch, played by Phillip Alford.
Atticus is appointed by the court to represent Tom Robinson (Brock Peters), a black man accused of raping a white teenage girl.
Jem and Scout become wrapped up in the trial, are the subject of schoolyard taunts and learn first hand about the ugly face of Southern racism in the fictional town of Maycomb in 1930s Alabama.
The movie is considered one of the best films ever made. It was nominated for eight Academy Awards. It won three, including a Best Actor Oscar for Peck.
That puts Sorkin in the delicate position of crafting a play for the stage that captures all of the impact and emotional power of the book and movie. The novel itself sold more than 50 million copies worldwide.
You can bet those who have read it, or seen the movie, will be in the audience casting a critical eye on the production.
Sorkin, 54, has lots of experience to draw on. He actually began his career writing for the stage.
After graduating from Syracuse University with a Musical Theater degree in 1983, he moved to New York City. He struggled as an actor before writing his first play, titled Removing All Doubt.
In 1988, His second work, Hidden in This Picture debuted off-off-Broadway at Steve Olsen’s West Bank Cafe Downstairs Theatre Bar.
At the behest of Producer John A. McQuiggan, he eventually combined the two one-act plays into a full-length play called Making Movies
His breakout work was a play titled A Few Good Men.
The courtroom drama was based on his sister’s experience as a lawyer in the Navy Judge Advocate General’s Corps. She represented soldiers involved in a hazing incident in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
He later adapted the play into script for a movie by the same name, starring Tom Cruise, Jack Nicholson, Demi Moore and Kevin Bacon. It was a commercial and critical success.
He continued writing for both the stage and screen. Among his films are “Charlie Wilson’s War,” “The Social Network,” “Moneyball” and last year’s “Steve Jobs.” He won an Oscar for best screenplay for “The Social Network.”
His television credits include the Emmy-winning White House television series “West Wing” and HBO’s “The Newsroom.”
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