Rafe Spall is to play Atticus Finch in the West End premiere of To Kill a Mockingbird when it opens in London next year. Spall replaces Rhys Ifans in the lead role of the production, which had been due to open this May but has been delayed because of the coronavirus pandemic.
To Kill a Mockingbird will now open at the Gielgud theatre in March 2022. It is written by West Wing creator Aaron Sorkin and is based on Harper Lee’s Pulitzer prize-winning 1960 novel. The play began its Broadway run in December 2018. Shortly before New York’s theatres were closed due to the pandemic, its cast gave a free performance at Madison Square Garden in front of 18,000 schoolchildren.
On Broadway, Jeff Daniels played Finch, the small-town lawyer in 1930s Alabama who defends a black man wrongly accused of rape. Adult actors portrayed the children in the story. The New York production opened after the estate of Harper Lee and the play’s producers “amicably settled” lawsuits regarding changes to the characterisations, particularly of Finch.
Spall was last on stage in a barnstorming solo role in Death of England at the National Theatre. He stars in the forthcoming time-travelling comedy film Long Story Short.
As it was on Broadway, To Kill a Mockingbird will be directed by Bartlett Sher and designed by Miriam Buether. Both were nominated for Tony awards for their work on the play. Tickets go on general sale for the London production on 6 April. More than 500 tickets priced between £5 and £10 will be available each week.