A decades-old stage adaptation of To Kill a Mockingbird won’t be flying around the UK and Ireland after all. Announced in the summer, the theatrical version of Harper Lee’s novel written by Christopher Sergel and first staged in 1991 has been canceled after notification from producers of Aaron Sorkin’s current Broadway production.
“We are very sorry to announce that, due to a legal dispute, the UK & Ireland tour of To Kill a Mockingbird, has been forced to cancel,” tweeted the Open Air Theatre, based in London’s Regent Park. “The decision to cancel To Kill a Mockingbird has not been taken lightly, and we are truly sorry for the inconvenience this cancellation will cause. Ticket holders should contact their original sales point to arrange refunds.”
In a lengthy statement posted online, the UK producers — Jonathan Church Productions, Curve and Regent’s Park Theatre — indicated that they’d been notified on January 11 by Atticus Limited Liability Company (the company formed by Broadway producer Scott Rudin for the Sorkin production) “claiming worldwide exclusivity in the professional stage rights to To Kill a Mockingbird.” The Sergel adaptation tour was to include Birmingham, Newcastle and Aberdeen.
A spokesperson for the Broadway production provided Deadline with the following statement: “We regret the cancellation of the upcoming UK/Ireland Tour of the Sergel adaptation of To Kill A Mockingbird, but the new Broadway adaptation by Aaron Sorkin is planning a UK mounting. It is this production that holds worldwide rights to the property in theatrical form, and we look forward to bringing it to UK audiences soon.”
No additional details were provided about a London engagement for the wildly popular and critically praised Sorkin adaptation – currently starring Jeff Daniels on Broadway – but the statement should come as welcome news to UK audiences hoping to see what the Mockingbird fuss is about. The production is certain to be a major presence at this year’s Tony Awards.
Sergel, who died at age 75 in 1993, spent about 20 years writing and revising his Mockingbird adaptation, finally unveiling the work in 1991 at the Paper Mill Playhouse in New Jersey. Originally intended for school productions, it would eventually become a staple of regional theaters, according to one of those theaters, the Utah Shakespeare Festival.