"In the whodunit, I did it," John Douglas Thompson cheerfully confessed at the press meet 'n' greet for A Time to Kill recently. "I take justice into my own hands by taking the lives of two white men who have done unspeakable crimes to my daughter."
The novel that started John Grisham's steady procession of bestsellers, opening Oct. 20 at the Golden Theatre, is the first to become a Broadway play. The mystery it harbors is not whodunit; it's will justice be done? Indeed, is there a time to kill?
Eva Price, the show's other lead producer, is pleased the way the actors fit the characters they're playing. "When I sit and look at our production photos and I look at every actor who plays every role," she said contentedly, "I go down the line and I think, 'I can't picture anyone else for that.' It is a casting-perfection combination."
This production came into being in a very circuitous way — through a documentary Roth produced a few years ago on shelter animals called "My Dog: An Unconditional Love Song." She was approached by a gentleman who wanted to do a companion book on dogs for the film, so they took a meeting. "He walked into my office not knowing I was a theatre producer, thinking I was just some crazy dog lady, and we had our talk. At the end of it, he identified himself as a literary manager and said he represented John Grisham. He said, 'A Time to Kill was John's first book, and it's the one book he always felt could be adapted for the stage. Would you be interested?' I said, 'Sign me right up. I'm your gal.' That accidental encounter led to all of this."
Holed up in a seedy motel on the edge of the Mojave Desert, two former lovers unpack the deep secrets and dark desires of their tangled relationship, passionately tearing each other apart. Led by director Daniel Aukin (Back Back Back at MTC, 4,000 Miles), Tony winner Nina Arianda (Venus in Fur at MTC, Born Yesterday) and Sam Rockwell (A Behanding in Spokane, The Way Way Back) bring an explosive intensity to Sam Shepard’s (Buried Child, True West) landmark myth of the new Wild West.