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Interview: Melanie Moore's KILLing It In MOCKINGBIRD

The national tour of Aaron Sorkin’s reimagining of Harper Lee’s To Kill A Mockingbird has settled in at the Pantages, running through November 27th

Interview: Melanie Moore's KILLing It In MOCKINGBIRD

The national tour of Aaron Sorkin's reimagining of Harper Lee's To Kill A Mockingbird has settled in at the Pantages, running through November 27, 2022. Bartlett Sher directs a stellar cast led by Richard Thomas as Atticus Finch. In one of the pivotal roles, Melanie Moore (as Scout Finch) breaks the fourth wall periodically to also act as narrator to this classic story. I had the opportunity to feed a few queries to Melanie.

Thank you for taking the time for this interview, Melanie!

How did your Mockingbird journey begin? A string of auditions? A glowing referral from a fellow actor? A text from Aaron Sorkin?

My Mockingbird journey began when I was called in for an audition in early 2019 for future Mockingbird Broadway replacements. Once I auditioned, they asked me if I'd be interested in going on tour. Then I had to wait about six months to go back in as a final callback for the production and was called very shortly after that with an offer to open the To Kill a Mockingbird Tour.

What factored into your choice of the regional accent your Scout uses (very consistently I might add!)?

Thank you! We have an amazing dialect coach, Kate Wilson, who helped shape and define my accent. I am from Georgia, originally, and my whole family is from Tennessee, so the accent I originally auditioned with is what I grew up hearing from family members- my grandma specifically. That accent is a little wider with harder 'R's' than a 1930's Alabama accent would have been, so Kate and I worked together to find a sound that felt natural and honored both the sound I grew up with and a sound that would have been pretty accurate for the setting of our play.

Interview: Melanie Moore's KILLing It In MOCKINGBIRD What was your initial reaction to being cast as a teenager?

Scout is actually not a teenager in the show. She is the same age (for most of the show) as she is in the book- around nine. But I have played a teenager in my last two Broadway shows, so playing younger characters is something I have experience with. My initial reaction to playing a character this young, though, was excitement- I love a challenge and being able to explore a child's mannerisms has been so much fun.

Any tips you can give to a newbie playing a role much younger than themselves?

My tips for playing a character much younger than yourself would be to get in touch with your younger self. Try to explore and remember the things that excited you, scared you, angered you, etc. and pull from your own life experiences and memories. Also, if you have any young family members watch the way they interact with the world, walk, and talk. I learned so much from hanging out with my nephew and niece.

Your friendly repor with the townsfolk, especially with your father Atticus, brother Jem and Dill, seemed second nature to you. Had you worked with any of the Mockingbird cast before?

I love this cast. I had never worked with any of these actors before Mockingbird, but many of us - especially Richard and I - had an instant connection. It's a group of people that love to laugh and genuinely love what we do, so it makes coming to work a lot of fun despite the difficult subject matter.

Interview: Melanie Moore's KILLing It In MOCKINGBIRD Besides winning season eight of So You Think You Can Dance, you studied at Centre Stage School of Dance and Rhythm Dance Center. What did you want to be growing up? A dancer? Or an actress?

I started dancing at age three, and continued training as a got older leading me to my time on "So You Think You Can Dance." Growing up I constantly said I wanted to be a performer and thought that would be in the dance world because that's where I started and grew my love for being on stage. But, as I found my way into musical theater and began acting, I found a new love for both singing and acting that was equal to my love for dance.

What type of dance were you studying?

I have trained in a lot of different styles of dance - jazz, contemporary, ballet, tap, ballroom, hip hop, etc.

Are you currently taking dance classes to keep your technique in shape?

I am taking more yoga classes and at the gym currently to stay in shape, but I am teaching some dance classes while I am on the road to scratch the dance itch. The show is pretty physically demanding for me, so I have to be conscious with overexerting myself in my time off.

What do you remember of the very first night of your Broadway debut as Peter Pan in Finding Neverland in 2015?

My most vivid memory about that night is from the opening of the show. The show began wiInterview: Melanie Moore's KILLing It In MOCKINGBIRD th a "Tinkerbell" light flying around the audience and through the curtain into my hands, and when the curtain opened, I was standing there as Peter Pan and had huge dance solo jumping around the stage.

I vividly remember that when the lights went out the whole audience, which was packed with Peter Pan and Broadway enthusiasts, started screaming and clapping and I got chills and started crying - happy tears of course. As "Tink" flew, the audience people got quiet and then when the curtain opened and it was me, as Peter Pan, everybody went wild and was cheering so loud it was hard to even hear the orchestra. I remember that I was directed to laugh as I was doing the solo and jumping around with the "Tink" light, but I was crying so hard and so overcome with emotion in that moment that I could hardly get laughs out as I was dancing because I was just dancing with tears streaming down my face. It's a moment I'll never forget, I still get chills and a little misty every time I think about it.

The national tour of Mockingbird has cities scheduled through July 2023. Any of those cities in particular that you are anxious to play in? (Old friends? Alma mater? Family?)

There aren't any cities that I can think of that I'm particularly anxious to play in. Most of my family and friends have seen the show already so those nerves have gone away. I have loved going across the country and seeing the beautiful theaters around America though and cannot wait to see more of them.

In the cities you've already toured, were there any audience reactions that took you by surprise?

Each audience in each city has been different. That is part of the fun of this show, not only from city to city, but night to night. Some cities have huge reactions to things that others have no response to and that is always fun to see.

Interview: Melanie Moore's KILLing It In MOCKINGBIRD Has Richard Thomas, who plays your father, given you any paternal acting advice? Or do you both more have more of a fellow actor relationship?

Richard and I have become great friends doing this show. We realized very quickly that we worked very similarly to one another, and he constantly tells me that I remind him of his younger self (which of course I'm honored by). He gives me paternal advice, but not necessarily paternal acting advice. I feel very lucky to be able to play on stage with him every night, the love that you see is very real.

Thank you again, Melanie! Continued success with Mockingbird and your future projects!

For tickets to the live performances of Mockingbird at the Pantaages through November 27, 2022; click on the button below:

For those of you who can't make it to the Pantages before November 27th, Mockingbird will return to Southern California at Segerstrom Center or the Arts December 27, 2022 through January 8, 2023.

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