Jeff Daniels and Aaron Sorkin, who previously teamed up on the HBO drama The Newsroom, are heading to Broadway together. The actor and producer are two key players in the recently reported staging of To Kill A Mockingbird, with Daniels playing the central role of Atticus Finch and Sorkin producing, aiming to bring the classic play into relevance for a new generation.
Daniels is a four-time Golden Globe nominee perhaps best-known for his role in “Dumb and Dumber” alongside Jim Carey in 1994. Other film work includes movies like “Terms of Endearment”, “The Hours”, “Steve Jobs”, and “The Martian”. He won the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series in 2013 for his portrayal of TV news anchor Will McAvoy working with Sorkin. He has also been nominated for the Tony Award as Best Actor for his roles in God of Carnage and Blackbird.
The adaptation by Sorkin will be directed by Bartlett Sher and co-produced by Scott Rudin with a projected opening date of November 1 at a theatre yet to be determined.
“We just finished two full labs of Aaron’s play, both directed by Bart, and both with [the projected] entire cast,” Rudin said in a statement reported by the Washington Post. “It’s an extraordinarily rare occurrence that you can build a play on the people who will ultimately be in it, but that is what we were lucky enough to do. … It’s a huge tribute to both Aaron and Bart (Sher) that everybody we asked to be in the production also cleared their schedules to jump into a very beefy lab process with us, especially so far in advance of the play’s production.”
While Daniels has a lengthy Broadway pedigree, it could be argued that his and Sorkin’s attachment to the project continue the recent trend of marquee names driving the interest in performances on the Great White Way. Examples of the trend were everywhere in 2017, such as the presence of pop singer/song writer, Jason Mraz, took part in Waitress for ten weeks. In the first week alone the popular musical saw an increase of $170,000 in gross sales and experienced the largest amount of gross sales since its opening in June. Fellow singer Josh Groban’s role in Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet, Bette Midler’s run in Hello Dolly, and Amy Schumer’s casting in the Steve Martin play Meteor Shower, as well as the recent casting of former American Idol runner-up Katharine McPhee in Waitress all proceeded on similar lines.
The “celebrity craze” on Broadway will continue in 2018 with shows besides To Kill A Mockingbird. There has been an increase of Broadway musicals centered on the life of various celebrities. Debuting on Broadway this year includes Escape to Margaritaville (Jimmy Buffet-based), Ain’t Too Proud: The Life and Times of the Temptations, and The Cher Show.