In a Facebook post today, The Grand Theatre’s Artistic/Executive Director, Seth Miller announced their production of the iconic Pulitzer Prize-winning Harper Lee novel To Kill a Mockingbird has been canceled “due to circumstances beyond our control.”
The show was scheduled to open March 21, 2019.
“Over the past several weeks we have been caught up in a legal dispute between Rudinplay in New York, the estate of Harper Lee, and Dramatic Publishing,” Miller says. “The Grand Theatre licensed the rights for To Kill a Mockingbird from Dramatic Publishing, who owns the rights to the original stage version of Harper Lee’s beloved novel.
“Dramatic Publishing’s right to license the original version of the stage adaptation is being contested by Rudinplay who holds the rights to the revised version of the play currently running on Broadway.
“Please believe me that we have exhausted every effort to overcome these obstacles and present our production, but under the threat of substantial legal action from Rudinplay we have had to cancel the show. The Grand Theatre Foundation itself, as I’m sure you are aware, is not in any kind of position to fight such an exhausting legal battle.
“Our box office will be reaching out to all those who have purchased tickets to issue refunds. The Grand has always held itself to a high standard of quality and professionalism. We sincerely hope this will not tarnish our relationship with any of our patrons, who we value dearly.”
The announcement has already ignited many comments of discontent. For instance, one respondent writes: “This is ridiculous, absolutely ridiculous. The theater is meant to teach, to unify, to open our eyes to the human condition and help us all learn and grow, discover about ourselves and our world. Theater that’s taken hostage by people looking to make more and more money is the complete antithesis to what it is about. I have no idea how a production at your fine, but small, theater is in any way interfering with the vastly popular, the remunerative success of the show that is currently running in New York. This is a book for the ages, this is a play that belongs to everyone, that should be enjoyed and digested by everyone, not just those who can afford to go to NYC and see that production…”