The production announced Thursday that tickets are on sale for a reset at the Shubert Theatre beginning Oct. 5. The action gives Times Square another touchstone production as Broadway seeks as swift a recovery as possible since the coronavirus pandemic shut down the American theater industry 15 months ago.
Although much will look and feel the same in this well-received adaptation of Harper Lee’s beloved novel, the guiding hand in the front office is new. Replacing Scott Rudin at the helm of “Mockingbird” is Orin Wolf, himself a Tony winner for his production of “The Band’s Visit,” best musical winner of 2018.
Rudin, a prolific generator of prestige movie and Broadway hits, announced on April 17 that he was stepping away from several of his Broadway projects, including “Mockingbird,” “The Book of Mormon,” a revival of “West Side Story” and a forthcoming “The Music Man” with Hugh Jackman.” The move came after an April 7 article in the Hollywood Reporter detailed accusations by former employees of physical intimidation and bullying. Rudin apologized in a statement to The Washington Post, saying he was “taking steps that [he] should have taken years ago to address this behavior.”
The naming of Wolf as “Mockingbird’s” executive producer — a title Wolf says he sought to distinguish himself from the role of an originating producer — is the first public indication of how operations at Rudin properties might change. (Barry Diller also is a long-standing producer of the show, but Wolf will oversee operations.) Tickets are said to be selling well for “The Music Man,” which also stars Sutton Foster and begins its run at the Winter Garden Theatre on Dec. 20.
“My role is to come in and protect the show and hopefully let it run for years and years,” Wolf said in a phone interview. A longtime producer of national tours of Broadway productions, Wolf also will produce the road company of “Mockingbird” that will star Richard Thomas and stop at Washington’s Kennedy Center and other markets. It starts in Buffalo in March 2022.
Asked about Rudin’s financial relationship going forward, Wolf said, “The Broadway company is no longer paying any compensation to Scott as a producer, and he has no managerial or decision-making role of any kind.” A spokesman for the show explained that Rudin maintains “a small investment position” that is “passive” and was made before the play’s Broadway start in late 2018.
A new lead producer for “The Music Man,” directed by Jerry Zaks, has not been announced. No plans have been unveiled, either, for the return of “Mormon” or director Ivo van Hove’s unorthodox multimedia staging of “West Side Story.” Dozens of other Broadway shows have already announced their returns, including the megahit trio of “Wicked,” “Hamilton” and “The Lion King” planning a joint start-up on Sept. 14. Initially, it was thought that those shows would be the first ones to restart Broadway. Now it’s a return engagement of “Springsteen on Broadway” beginning June 26 that will get things rolling. The first straight play back will be Antoinette Chinonye Nwandu’s “Pass Over,” beginning performances Aug. 4.
The producers of “Springsteen on Broadway” have said that proof of a coronavirus vaccination will be required for admittance to the St. James Theatre. It remains to be seen how many shows will follow suit.
“To Kill a Mockingbird,” with its conscience-driven theme of confronting racial injustice, has made an impact on public consciousness through some unusual initiatives. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), for instance, invited the cast to the Library of Congress in April 2019 to stage portions of the play for Washington-area students. And in February 2020, about 18,000 New York City students gathered at Madison Square Garden for a special free performance, with the show’s star at the time, Ed Harris, as Atticus.
Actors who originate characters on Broadway sometimes return to the show, to bolster sales or simply revisit a performance for which they were celebrated. Wolf said he thinks the motivation for Daniels and Keenan-Bolger is different.
“I truly believe,” he said, “the reason they’re both doing this is they want to be part of the city coming back.”