Opinion: Jeff Daniels' 'Mockingbird' magnificent theater
“Outta’ My Mind on a Monday Moanin’ ”
I am not an official theater critic.
I did, however, grow up in the world of community theater, with parents who loved legitimate theater enough to breathe life into The Monroe Community Players over 70 years ago.
My mother, Sweet Marie Betrus Smith, at 93 remains active with the thespians she so loves. My late father, William D. Smith, under his professional stage name, Daniel Athereton, did a lot of award-winning work, including starring in “Catch Me If You Can” with Wayne Rogers and Elaine Joyce at the Cape Playhouse in Dennis, Massachusetts.
I’ve been in and attended hundreds of theatrical productions, from Main Street to Broadway.
I know what I know based on years of observations.
And what I know is Jeff Daniels' performance as Atticus Finch in Aaron Sorkin’s new rendition of Harper Lee’s "To Kill A Mockingbird" is breathtakingly flawless. His spot-on interpretation is the most powerfully underplayed rendition of the man at the center of this important story.
Going in, Daniels knew this was more than a once in a lifetime opportunity, a role sought after by a “who’s who” of the powerful and talented in the business. The fact that this was all happening at the Carnegie Hall of playhouses — the Sam S. Shubert Theatre — only added to the overall significance.
The producers picked Daniels.
The producers picked right.
In fact, they also knocked it out of the park with the rest of the cast, including UM grad Celia Keenan-Bolger as Scout Finch; Will Pullen as Jem Finch; Gbenga Akinnagbe as Tom Robinson; Dakin Mathews as Judge Taylor; LaTanya Richardson Jackson as Calpurnia and other great cast members.
This is magnificent theater.
Paul W. Smith is host of “The Paul W. Smith Show” on WJR-AM (760) from 5:30-9 a.m. Monday-Friday.