The South Florida premiere engagement of To Kill a Mockingbird is at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts through April 9. Academy Award winner Aaron Sorkin’s new play, directed by Tony Award winner Bartlett Sher and based on Harper Lee’s classic novel will come to Fort Lauderdale as part of a multi-year national tour across North America.
Emmy Award-winning actor Richard Thomas, who recently celebrated a 60-year anniversary of performing on both stage and screen, will play the role of Atticus Finch. In addition, the main cast includes: Melanie Moore (scout finch); Jacqueline Williams (calpurnia):
Justin Mark (jem finch): Vaegel T. Welch; Steven Lee Johnson (dill harris); Mary Badham (mrs. henry dubose); Joey Collins (bob ewell), and others.
To Kill a Mockingbird holds the record as the highest-grossing American play in Broadway history. It began performances on November 1, 2018, at the Shubert Theatre and played to sold-out houses until the Broadway shutdown in March 2020. On February 26, 2020, To Kill a Mockingbird became the first-ever Broadway play to perform at New York’s Madison Square Garden, in front of approximately 18,000 New York City public school students, also marking the largest attendance at a single performance of a play ever in world theater.
Set in Alabama in 1934, Harper Lee’s enduring story of racial injustice and childhood innocence centers on one of the most venerated characters in American literature, small-town lawyer Atticus Finch. The cast of characters includes Atticus’s daughter Scout, her brother Jem, their housekeeper and caretaker, Calpurnia, their visiting friend Dill, and a mysterious neighbor, the reclusive Arthur “Boo” Radley. The other indelible residents of Maycomb, Alabama, are Bob Ewell, Tom Robinson, prosecutor Horace Gilmer, Judge Taylor and Mayella Ewell.
It was a pleasure to sit down with Steven Lee Johnson, who plays Dill Harris, for this exclusive Hotspots interview:
At what age did you begin performing?
I started when I was 8, and it happened because I was so stressed out from competitive sports that my mom threw me in to a summer theater camp. From that moment on I never stopped.
What was your first paid gig?
Oh man, let me think…it was when I was 15 and I did a small play in a professional theater in Rockford Illinois. I got $100 a week and I felt rich.
When did you know performing would be your career?
Really early on I did a production of a Christmas Carol and one of the older actors took me aside and said to me “I Think you can do this,” and it made me take acting serious as a career. I was 13 or 14 at the time.
Other than this one, what has been your favorite role so far?
When I was in Grad School, I did a production of Othello at Yale. My best friend played Othello and I played Iago. This was an amazing time for me.
What’s your fantasy role (a role you haven’t played but want to)?
For me its going to be a new project where I read the description and I feel I am the character. But if you are talking about a role that already exists it would be Prior in Angels In America.
Is it hard being on the road all the time?
Yes, it is as I miss my family and my friends and my two cats. But I do love this opportunity to play to all these different theaters and audiences, and I get to explore all these cities that I would never be able to afford to explore. So, because this is temporary this has been the best year of my life. But there are days that I miss my Mommy… 😊
How well do you and your castmates get along?
Really well. Tours can be a nightmare if the mix isn’t right, but this one has truly been zero drama for a year now. Richard Thomas is an extremely generous and kind person and that trickles down to the rest of the cast and it keeps the cast moral high!
Describe yourself in 3 words?
Dreamer, adventurer, and friend.
What do you do for fun?
Hiking is the number one thing that I love to do. I also love to ski and I am also prone to binge television shows.
What should our readers expect from this touring company of “To Kill a Mockingbird ”?
If you love the book, you are going to find the story reimagined and brought into the 21st century. If you don’t know the book, it’s a beautiful story that audiences have loved, so I am sure the south Florida audience will love it as well.
In addition, my character is based on Truman Capote who is Harper Lees childhood friend. Its not a huge part in the book, but it has been expanded in the play. There is something really rich, and beautiful about that. I really enjoy the queerness of him, and I feel lucky to be playing him.
For more information, please visit Tokillamockingbirdbroadway.com.
Tickets starting at $36.75 are available at BrowardCenter.org and Ticketmaster.com, by phone at 954.468.0222 or at the Broward Center’s AutoNation Box Office located at 201 SW Fifth Avenue, Fort Lauderdale, FL. 33312.