Non-profit community theatre Dayton Playhouse has been forced to abandon their production of To Kill A Mockingbird, which was due to open next Friday.
Actors had memorized their lines and over 700 tickets had already been sold. Local theatre group Dayton Playhouse was set to open their latest play 'To Kill A Mockingbird' next Friday. But now, along with dozens of other community and nonprofit theaters across America, their performances have been canceled.
Dayton Playhouse was planning to stage an adaptation of the popular novel by the playwright Christopher Sergel. The cast and crew have been hard at work on the production for weeks when theater officials received a cease and desist letter from the producers of the new Broadway production which opened last December.
A statement from Dayton Playhouse read in part, "DPI did everything correctly to acquire the rights to the Sergel adaptation of To Kill A Mockingbird; such rights were secured, and paid for properly, 14 months ago. However, the opening of the new production in New York has changed the business landscape and appears to have rendered DPI’s rights no longer valid."
Broadway producer Scott Rudin claims that author Harper Lee signed exclusive worldwide rights to the title of the novel over to him. Rudin is asserting that his current adaptation on Broadway is the only version allowed to be performed.
“We are in complete shock,” stated Matt Lindsay, Chair of the Dayton Playhouse Board of Directors. “I feel terrible for our artists, on stage and backstage, who poured their hearts into making something beautiful and meaningful, only to have it ended so suddenly.”
The cost to Dayton Playhouse of canceling the production could be around $15,000.
Dayton Playhouse said people who have bought tickets for 'To Kill a Mockingbird' can request a refund, use them for a future show, or allow the funds to be used as a donation.
Read the full statement from Dayton Playhouse here.