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Book Reviews

Harper Lee’s To Kill A Mockingbird Named America’sBest-Loved Novel on PBS’s Great American Rea

Harper Lee’s To Kill A Mockingbird Named America’sBest-Loved Novel on PBS’s Great American Rea

Playwright Aaron Sorkin and stars Jeff Daniels, La Tanya Richardson Jackson, and Gbenga Akinnagbe of the upcoming Broadway play, based on the Harper Lee classic, among those on hand to celebrate the announcement.

Caption: Meredith Vieira, Diana Gabaldon, Eliyannah Yisrael, Aaron Sorkin, LaTanya Richardson Jackson, Gbenga Akinnagbe, Ali Wentworth, and Wil Wheaton

Credit: Courtesy of Stephanie Berger/PBS

PBS revealed tonight that To Kill A Mockingbird was voted America’s best-loved novel during this evening’s Great American Read “Grand Finale”. The final episode, taped in front of a live audience at the Masonic Hall in New York City, counted down all 100 novels, which were first announced to the public in April. Series host Meredith Vieira joined the playwright and cast of the new Broadway play, based on  To Kill A Mockingbird  –  author Aaron Sorkin, Jeff Daniels (Atticus Finch), LaTanya Richardson Jackson (Calpurnia) and Gbenga Akinnagbe (Tom Robinson) – to celebrate the announcement of America’s best-loved novel, and discuss both its lasting  impact and why it resonates today.  To Kill A Mockingbird  begins previews on Broadway on Thursday, November 1, and opens on Thursday, December 13 at the Shubert Theatre (225 West 44th Street).

Jeff Daniels heads a cast of 24 which, in addition to LaTanya Richardson Jackson and Gbenga Akinnagbe, also stars Celia Keenan-Bolger, Will Pullen, Gideon Glick, Frederick Weller, Stark Sands, Dakin Matthews, Erin Wilhelmi, Danny McCarthy, Neal Huff, Phyllis Somerville, Liv Rooth, and Danny Wolohan.

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, the small-town lawyer Atticus Finch. The cast of characters includes Atticus’s daughter Scout (Celia Keenan-Bolger), her brother Jem (Will Pullen), their friend Dill (Gideon Glick), and their mysterious neighbor, the reclusive “Boo” Radley (Danny Wolohan).  The other indelible residents of Maycomb, Alabama will be brought to life on stage by Frederick Weller (as Bob Ewell), Stark Sands (as prosecutor Horace Gilmer), Dakin Matthews (playing  Judge Taylor), and Erin Wilhelmi (as Mayella Ewell).

Written during the early stages of the Civil Rights Movement — at a time when Jim Crow laws were still in effect in many Southern states — and published in 1960,  To Kill A Mockingbird  held up a mirror to the ingrained culture of racism in the Deep South. Lee’s debut novel was an immediate and astonishing success, winning the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, with editions published in ten languages within a year of its release. The book, considered one of the great classics of modern literature, became a global phenomenon, with more than 50 million copies in print to date, second only to the Bible in the number of extant copies printed thus far during the lifetime of the novel. To Kill A Mockingbird  has moved readers around the world for well over half a century, with editions published in over 40 languages — including Persian, Dutch, Norwegian, Russian, Vietnamese, Armenian, Chinese, and Esperanto.

To Kill A Mockingbird , directed by Bartlett Sher, has scenic design by Miriam Buether, costume design by Ann Roth, lighting design by Jennifer Tipton, sound design by Scott Lehrer, an original score by Adam Guettel, and is produced by Scott Rudin, Barry Diller, Eli Bush, and Lincoln Center Theater.

An eight-part television series and nationwide initiative, Great American Read  explored the power of books and the joy of reading through the lens of America’s 100 best-loved novels. The 100 titles included on the list were selected through a demographically and statistically representative national survey conducted by YouGov. Over 4 million readers cast their votes, resulting in  To Kill A Mockingbird s being chosen as America’s best-loved novel.

Tickets for  To Kill A Mockingbird  are available at the Shubert Theatre box office, by calling Telecharge at (212) 239-6200, and on Telecharge.com.

Book Reviews

Suzanna, co-owns and publishes the newspaper Times Square Chronicles or T2C. At one point a working actress, she has performed in numerous productions in film, TV, cabaret and theatre. She has performed at The New Orleans Jazz festival, The United Nations and Carnegie Hall. Currently she has a screenplay in the works, which she developed with her mentor and friend the late Arthur Herzog. She was the Broadway Informer on the all access cable TV Show “The New Yorkers,” soon to be “The Tourist Channel.” email: suzanna@t2conline.com

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