Ed Harris and the cast put on the show for 18,000 New York City public school students.

By Nick Romano
February 27, 2020 at 02:22 PM EST

To Kill a Mockingbird (2018 play)

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To Kill a Mockingbird, the adaptation from Oscar-winning screenwriter Aaron Sorkin, made history Wednesday as the first Broadway production to ever play at New York City's Madison Square Garden. We're not even talking about the smaller theater spaces adjoining the stadium, like the Hulu Theater. We're talking about the arena itself.

Led by actor Ed Harris, who took over the role of Atticus Finch after Jeff Daniels' stint, the cast put on a free performance of the show for 18,000 NYC public school students. This marked the single largest audience to ever attend a performance of a play.

Filmmaker Spike Lee emceed the show, which was introduced by Mayor Bill de Blasio and First Lady of New York City Chirlaine McCray. "Don’t anybody tell you you can’t be artists," Lee, who recently directed Netflix's She's Gotta Have It, was heard telling the crowd.

To Kill a Mockingbird at Madison Square GardenPhoto: Julieta Cervantes
Julieta Cervantes

The mainstage was set up on the floor of the immense sports arena, typically reserved for basketball games, and punctuated by performances from choirs from local city schools.

Little Fang

“It was an absolutely incredible afternoon," producer Scott Rudin said in a statement. "Huge credit goes to the remarkable efforts and valiant spirit of the entire cast, who acquitted themselves brilliantly. Giant thanks from [producer] Barry Diller and myself to [The Madison Square Garden Company CEO] Jim Dolan and everybody at Madison Square Garden; they were unbelievable partners. It was one of the great days of the lives of everybody who participated in it.”

“I’m extremely proud of the 18,000 kids who listened and took part in the play," Harris added.

To Kill a Mockingbird at Madison Square GardenPhoto by Jenny Anderson
Jenny Anderson

Directed by Bartlett Sher and adapted by Sorkin from Harper Lee's literary classic, To Kill a Mockingbird, set in 1934 Alabama, features actors Nick Robinson, Eliza Scanlen, Kyle Scatliffe, LisaGay Hamilton, Nina Grollman, Taylor Trensch, Manoel Felciano, Russell Harvard, Dakin Matthews, Patricia Conolly, Christopher Innvar, William Youmans, Neal Huff, Ted Koch, and Liv Rooth.

After opening in 2018, the play received nine Tony nominations, including one for Daniels' performance. Actress Celia Keenan-Bolger won Best Featured Actress in a Play for her role as Scout Finch.

Greg Kinnear will now take over the Atticus Finch role after Harris, marking the Little Miss Sunshine actor's Broadway debut.

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To Kill a Mockingbird (2018 play)

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