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‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ Takes Rare Flight

Oklahoma City University is one of a handful of sites in the country where audiences can still see a theater adaptation of the classic novel “To Kill a Mockingbird.” The co-production with Oklahoma Children’s Theatre will run Oct. 23 to 27 in OCU’s Burg Theatre.

A few community and amateur theaters across the country had initially started pre-production plans last year to stage their own theatrical performances of the Harper Lee novel. However, a Hollywood and Broadway producer claimed exclusive rights to the play as he developed his Broadway production, which is based on an adaptation by screenwriter Aaron Sorkin (“The West Wing,” “The Newsroom”) and stars Jeff Daniels in the leading role. The Broadway producer’s legal team sent cease-and-desist letters to theater companies that were planning to stage their own productions, including the Oklahoma Children’s Theatre.

National media took notice, and calls for boycotts of the Broadway show — and the company’s other hit shows including “The Book of Mormon” — began to grow. As criticism mounted, the producer struck a compromise: Theaters that had already scheduled a run for “To Kill a Mockingbird” would be allowed to continue, so long as they use a version by playwright Christopher Sergel. They later received permission to use the Aaron Sorkin script.

“This is an extremely unique opportunity to see this play,” said Lyn Adams, executive director of Oklahoma Children’s Theatre. “There likely won’t be another opportunity to see it in regional theatre for another decade or two.”

“Oklahoma Children’s Theatre and Oklahoma City University are fortunate to collaborate in staging this classic, yet timely and culturally significant play,” said OCU President Martha Burger. “This is one of the few places in the country, and the only one in the region, to have this opportunity.”

The Pulitzer Prize-winning novel “To Kill a Mockingbird” takes place in a sleepy Alabama town in the midst of the Great Depression. The facade of the seemingly peaceful town begins to crack when a young black man is accused of a terrible crime. Driven by an unshakeable moral conviction, local lawyer Atticus Finch defends the man in a trial that sends violent waves through the community. For more information about the Oklahoma City production, visit the website at okcu.edu/theatre/mockingbird.

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