"To Kill a Mockingbird" - Harper Lee, Aaron Sorkin - Hanover Theatre for the Performing Arts (Worcester, MA.) - REVIEW

(Cover Photo: Yaegel T. Welch as "Tom Robinson" on the stand in a scene from Harper Lee's "TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD" adapted for the stage by Aaron Sorkin at the Hanover Theatre in Worcester, MA. until May 5, 2024. Photo Credit: Julieta Cervantes)

By Kevin T. Baldwin

METRMAG Reviewer

# 774-242-6724

“I'd rather you shot at tin cans in the back yard, but I know you'll go after birds. Shoot all the bluejays you want, if you can hit 'em, but remember it's a sin to kill a mockingbird." 

                                            - ("Atticus Finch") / Harper Lee


The Hanover Theatre for the Performing Arts

Presents Aaron Sorkin's 

Adaptation of Harper Lee's


“The most successful American play in Broadway history!” -NY Times

Written by Harper Lee

Adapted by Aaron Sorkin

Directed by Bartlett Sher

Cast Includes: Richard Thomas as “Atticus Finch,” Maeve Moynihan as “Scout Finch,” Jacqueline Williams as “Calpurnia,” Justin Mark as “Jem Finch,” Yaegel T. Welch as “Tom Robinson,” Steven Lee Johnson as “Dill Harris,” Mary Badham as “Mrs. Henry Dubose,” Ted Koch as “Bob Ewell,” Jeff Still as “Judge Taylor,” Christopher R. Ellis as “Horace Gilmer,” Mariah Lee as “Mayella Ewell,” Travis Johns as “Sheriff Heck Tate,” Greg Wood as “Link Deas,” Anne-Marie Cusson as “Miss Stephanie, Dill’s Mother,” Ian Bedford as “Mr. Cunningham, Boo Radley.” General Understudies: Lance Baker, Stephen Cefalu, Jr. Ensemble: Denise Cormier, Rae Gray, Greg Jackson, Joey LaBrasca, David Andrew Morton, Andre Ozim, Dorcas Sowunmi  (NOTE: Information obtained from tour website subject to change)    


May 3, 2024 through May 5, 2024  

(Contact Box Office for Exact Times)

Presented at the Hanover Theatre for the Performing Arts, 2 Southbridge St., Worcester. 

For More Information:  

877-571-SHOW (7469) info@thehanovertheatre.org



Contact Venue for Most Updated COVID-19 Safety Protocols and Information.

The Hanover Theatre brings Harper Lee’s quintessential novel "TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD" to the Worcester stage thanks to a masterful new adaptation by Aaron Sorkin.   

This newer stage adaptation by Sorkin and staging by director Bartlett Sher expands upon various aspects of the overall Lee story.

Whatever one's position - should they savor Sorkin's contributions and loathe Lee's original story - or, instead, should they love Lee's story and scorn Sorkin's contributions - "TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD" is still considered the gold standard of American drama.

It is also one hell of a play and should not be missed.

Despite dealing with serious issues of rape and racial inequality, Lee's story is renowned for its warmth and humor, exemplified by the performances by this splendid cast.

"TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD" was first published as a novel in 1960 by author Harper Lee

An instant hit in America, it won the Pulitzer Prize for literature and, even after 60 years, is still widely read in many schools. 

The plot and characters are loosely based on Lee’s observations of her family, her neighbors and an event that occurred near her hometown of Monroeville, Alabama, in 1936, when she was 10 years old.

(Photo: Travis Johns as “Boo Radley,” Maeve Moynihan as “Scout Finch,” Steven Lee Johnson as “Dill Harris” and Justin Mark as “Jem Finch” in a scene from Harper Lee's "TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD" adapted for the stage by Aaron Sorkin at the Hanover Theatre in Worcester, MA. until May 5, 2024. Photo Credit: Julieta Cervantes)

Be it in the novel, the classic screen adaptation or in this latest stage adaptation, "TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD" is, at its heart, a coming-of-age story. 

We are in Maycomb, Alabama during the 1930s between the Great Depression and Jim Crow era.     

The Great Depression is reflected in the poverty shared by all of the residents of this small Maycomb community. 

Attorney Atticus Finch (Richard Thomas) is a widower with two children.

The character of Atticus has served as a moral compass and template for many fictional heroes that came after, also representing a model of integrity for attorneys at law. 

In this latest tour, though, the character of Atticus is far less elevated, shown more clearly as flawed, a product of his time and also a product of the place in which this story exists. 

Calpurnia (Jacqueline Williams) is the steadfast, loyal maid and housekeeper who runs an organized house for Atticus. 

In the classic 1962 movie adaptation of "TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD" there was an emphasis made to depict a more employer-employee relationship between Atticus and Calpurnia as the latter character was not as developed. 

This new stage adaptation by Sorkin and staging by illustrious director Bartlett Sher expands upon the Calpurnia character, making her more a colleague to or contemporary of Atticus, especially when it comes to the raising of the children, in particular, Scout.   

There is a more significant partnership emphasis here. “Atticus Finch” is also far from the “moral compass” as originally played by Gregory Peck. That aspect has been largely shifted to Calpurnia.

Williams gives a totally controlled "slow burn" of a performance - like a fuse has been lit in Act One and, come Act Two, you can bet that an explosion is imminent.

Calpurnia is spiritual guide, role-model and teacher to both Jem (Justin Mark) and Scout (Maeve Moynihan), Atticus’s children...and then becomes a much-needed teacher to Atticus, as well. 

Calpurnia is educated, relentless and stringent but also compassionate and nurturing. She holds Atticus accountable when he needs to be reminded of his responsibilities...as a father, as a lawyer and ultimately as a good man. 

It is actually the trio of young girl Scout, her brother Jem and their friend Dill Harris (Steven Lee Johnson) who convey the narrative of the play.

Mark, Moynihan and Johnson are all completely in control of the narrative from the moment the "Fire Curtain" is raised.

Johnson as Dill provides some of the show's biggest - and much needed - laughs.

(Photo: Dorcas Sowunmi (left) stands with Mary Badham (right) as “Mrs. Henry Dubose”) in a scene from Harper Lee's "TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD" adapted for the stage by Aaron Sorkin at the Hanover Theatre in Worcester, MA. until May 5, 2024. Photo Credit: Julieta Cervantes)

The story depicts how Scout and Jem each comes to gain a better understanding of the world as it truly exists around them. 

The clever approach to having them share in the narration is a fascinating highlight of this staging by director Sher as is the intricate "jigsaw puzzle" construct of the show's set, allowing for the cast to perform any set changes, thus making for a flawless and fluid execution of the story.

In fact, if there was only one complaint to be had at the opening night performance at the Hanover on May 3rd, it would have been in the area of sound. 

This is such a "quiet" play that some of the more "muttered" casually spoken dialogue got lost. Sound could have been augmented to allow for these moments.

As part of the Finch family's collective journey, there are many associated themes in "TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD," that include (but are not limited to): prejudice, intolerance, class hierarchy, integrity, justice, innocence and your basic conflict of “good versus evil." 

The family learns that there are not always "good people on both sides."

By the end of watching this play, should you not recognize the relevancy that still exists for the above, then you haven't quite been paying attention.

Scout and Jem are taunted by their peers for the mere fact that Atticus is charged with the unenviable task of defending a Black man charged with the vicious rape of a white girl. 

The siblings also are at the age when children begin to see parents as the imperfect creatures they are. 

They begin to see their father as fallible - less of a hero and more as a man - and must consider if they can come to accept him as imperfect…as human…as he is. 

While imperfect, he is still a damn sight better than others we meet as the story unfolds in "TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD." 

Mrs. Henry Dubose (Mary Badham, the original "Scout Finch" from the 1962 motion picture) is a terminally ill, morphine-addicted elderly woman who lives two doors down from the Finches. 

While only appearing in this adaptation briefly, Badham greatly impresses as Dubose, considered “the meanest old woman who ever lived” by neighbors and insulting anyone within earshot.

While berating Atticus for agreeing to defend a Black man for such a heinous crime, Atticus sees in Dubose's own latent struggle a stark parallel to the morality struggle he faces in his fight to vindicate unjustly accused Tom Robinson (Yaegel T. Welch).

(Photo: Yaegel T. Welch as "Tom Robinson" on the stand as Richard Thomas as "Atticus Finch" looks on in a scene from Harper Lee's "TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD" adapted for the stage by Aaron Sorkin at the Hanover Theatre in Worcester, MA. until May 5, 2024. Photo Credit: Julieta Cervantes)

Robinson is a good man, a family man, a moral man who showed compassion and kindness to a fellow struggling family, the Ewells, which was deserving of neither.

Evil incarnate Bob Ewell (Ted Koch) deflects his own crimes onto innocent Black man Robinson whose only crime was helping Bob's daughter, Mayella (Mariah Lee) with some chores. 

(Note: If you are offended by the "N word" you should be aware that it is used quite often in this production, among other racial slurs. Please keep this in mind also before bringing any young children or those easily triggered or offended by their usage.)

Welch is simply brilliant as Robinson, accused of raping Mayella, is jailed, convicted, and now stands trial for which, if found guilty, he will be executed in the electric chair for his crime. 

The Ewells are a poor white family, ostracized by society with Bob Ewell suspected of child abuse of Mayella and her siblings.

Koch has the unenviable task of making Ewell more "human" and does so adeptly, as does Lee as Mayella. 

Each character in the Ewell family brings forth their legacy of racial hatred and ignorance that they seem to want to wear as a badge of honor. 

This is also a legacy shared by many in this small community, especially those on the jury for this trial.

By the way, none of the above are "spoilers" as it there is no courtroom mystery here. 

This is not a "who dunnit?" although there is a subplot mystery about the character "Boo Radley" (Ian Bedford, who also wonderfully portrays struggling farmer "Mr. Cunningham") which is only explored briefly. 

No, the suspense in Sorkin's adaptation of "TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD" instead comes from wondering how (and why) the unseen jury will ultimately vote for Robinson by the end of the trial.

The play explores prejudice based not only on the surface, notably the surface of one’s skin pigmentation, but also prejudice based on economic and social class. 

If we consider what justice is supposed to be, if it cannot come from the letter of the law nor our own legal system, where does one look to find it?  

Using the optics granted to us as a society by using today’s more modern “lens,” one might also see prejudice based upon gender expectations. 

This is exemplified in the fabulous portrayal by Moynihan of Scout’s own personal exploration in trying to understand her own sense of femininity. 

Yet, again, thanks to Sorkin's brilliant story structuring and sense of balance, this never becomes distracting from the main story. 

(Photo: Maeve Moynihan as “Scout Finch” in the courtroom with the Company of Harper Lee's "TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD" adapted for the stage by Aaron Sorkin at the Hanover Theatre in Worcester, MA. until May 5, 2024. Photo Credit: Julieta Cervantes)

Through the consummate performance given by Richard Thomas, Atticus shows he is not perfect but, as if on a mission, strives to be a person of integrity and to live his life according to what he feels is right. 

His struggle is in trying to instill the above in his children, as well, in a community that is not always "accommodating" to his mission.

Atticus only takes on the trial as a gesture to Judge Taylor (Jeff Still) who feels Atticus is the only man who can give Robinson the kind of defense he deserves. 

Still, as the Judge, has many clever moments on stage and yields some big laughs in the process.

Thomas is also incredibly funny, at times, displaying an impeccable sense of comedic timing. His performance truly dominates.

"TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD" is widely regarded as a literary turning point focused on the subject of racism and racist hierarchy in America, and "Atticus Finch," especially as embodied by Thomas, is still most representative of someone who believes in an allegiance to justice, not bias.

In Robinson's defense, Atticus asks everyone in the courtroom (and in the audience) to consider just what the concepts of guilt, innocence, and good versus evil truly are – not just in Robinson’s case but for each and every one of us. 

The above question is also what both Lee and Sorkin demand we ask of ourselves. 

Not just today but every day.

"TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD" continues at the Hanover Theatre in Worcester, MA. until May 5th, 2024. For Tickets and more information call # 877-571-SHOW (7469) or email info@thehanovertheatre.org

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For more information, contact the Hanover Theatre at # 877-571-SHOW (7469) or via email at info@thehanovertheatre.org


Approximately two hours, 30 minutes with one intermission

Kevin T. Baldwin is a member of the American Theatre Critics Association (ATCA) 




“The New York Times Critic’s Pick 'TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD' is “the most successful American play in Broadway history” - 60 Minutes 

With direction by Tony Award® winner Bartlett Sher, "TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD" is “the greatest novel of all time” (Chicago Tribune) and has quickly become “one of the greatest plays in history” (NPR).

Set in Alabama in 1934, Harper Lee’s enduring story of racial injustice and childhood innocence centers on one of the most venerated characters in American literature, small-town lawyer Atticus Finch. 

The cast of characters includes Atticus’s daughter Scout, her brother Jem, their housekeeper and caretaker, Calpurnia, their visiting friend Dill, and a mysterious neighbor, the reclusive Arthur “Boo” Radley. 

The other indelible residents of Maycomb, Alabama, are Bob Ewell, Tom Robinson, prosecutor Horace Gilmer, Judge Taylor and Mayella Ewell. 

Rolling Stone gives it 5 stars, calling it “an emotionally shattering landmark production of an American classic,” and New York Magazine calls it “a real phenomenon. Majestic and incandescent, it’s filled with breath and nuance and soul.” 

Please contact the box office at 877-571-SHOW (7469) for more information.


Worcester Center for Performing Arts is a registered not-for-profit 501(c)(3) organization, which owns and operates The Hanover Theatre and Conservatory for the Performing Arts. All donations are tax deductible to the fullest extent allowed by law.


2 Southbridge Street

Worcester, MA. 01608

877-571-SHOW (7469)