Actor Greg Wood will return to Philly with the national tour of TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD. Wood has local ties having been raised in Aston, PA. Now residing in New Jersey, Wood’s most recent regional credits include our area theaters. Talking with Phindie, Wood says he can directly relate to the plays’ theme of social inequality and racial injustice.
To Kill a Mockingbird makes its Philadelphia premiere July 12-24 at the Academy of Music on the Kimmel Cultural Campus.
Debra Danese: When were you first introduced to To Kill a Mockingbird?
Greg Wood: I first saw the Gregory Peck movie when I was around 9 years old. I can truly say it was one of those events that changed my perspective on the world. My mother’s family is from Mobile, Alabama. She was raised by Aida and Mattie- two African American women who were my mother’s nurse and housekeeper. They were family. As a child, my mom would play with their kids. Growing up, I never knew there was a white/black issue. When I saw the movie, my life changed instantly and I “grew up.” I identified so closely with Scout and her not understanding what was going on and why. I still don’t understand.
DD: Has the meaning changed for you since then and now?
GW: The meaning hasn’t changed at all. In fact, it’s hard to believe that in 2022 we are still dealing with the same issues. The same ignorance. The same fear. The same bigotry. The same hatred. Very sad.
DD: What is the most important thing you try to bring to your role?
GW: I love playing Dr. Reynolds! What I try to do is bring that sense of small town community to what I do. That sense of everyone knowing each other and their families. I’m sure Dr. Reynolds delivered Jem and Scout and was there at the death of Atticus’ wife. As Atticus says, “My family has been here for years. I know these people.”
DD: If you could give advice to one character in the play, who and what would that be?
GW: Calpurnia says, “Jem and Scout have the spirit of fighters. Why don’t you let ‘em fight?” I would say to Scout, “Never stop fighting. Always meet ignorance with truth and hatred with compassion.”
GW: “You were in that play?”
Just kidding. I was able to go on as Judge Taylor for almost two weeks due to a covid issue. One night after one of the Judge’s scenes with Atticus, Richard Thomas (Atticus) said to me, “I really enjoy ‘playing’ with you. Great fun!” That meant a lot.
DD: As a native of the Philadelphia area, what local sites are you recommending to the cast?
GW: I cannot wait for Mockingbird to come to Philly! I think Philly will love the show and we certainly will love Philly. I’m the unofficial Philly liaison for our company. It’s such a great walking city and our cast loves to walk. I’ve suggested a day in Old City and all the historic sites, great restaurants, and to make sure they hit up Franklin Fountain for dessert. Then walk back through the Spruce St Harbor Park and, of course, the Art Museum area. If they’d like a longer walk, the Italian Market for DiBruno Brothers and cheese steaks!
[Academy of Music, 240 S. Broad St.] July 12-24, 2022; kimmelculturalcampus.org