By Janelle Burrell

PHILADEPHIA (CBS) — An American classic is coming to the stage in Philadelphia. “To Kill A Mockingbird” is captivating audiences at the Academy of Music. CBS3’s Janelle Burrell had the chance to speak with the lead actor about taking on the role.

“I just jumped at it,” Richard Thomas said. “I didn’t think twice about it.”

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Thomas, an Emmy award-winning actor, said he was “all in” when offered the role of Atticus Finch, bringing Harper Lee’s 1960 Pulitzer prize-winning novel to life on stage.

JB: “This is a story that so many of us read while we were in school and is a favorite for so many people. For those who aren’t familiar, tell us a little about your character, Atticus Finch.”

American Classic 'To Kill A Mockingbird' Captivates Audiences At Kimmel Cultural Campus’ Academy Of Music

Thomas: “Well, Atticus Finch is a small-town lawyer. He’s a widower. He has a boy and a girl, Scout and Jem. And Calpurnia was sort of the housekeeper, the homemaker who’s been with the family for many year is an African American woman.”

“And basically, they raised the kids together,” Thomas added.

The play, which was adapted by Aaron Sorkin, takes place in Alabama in the 1930s. It’s a story with has powerful themes of race and humanity

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“It’s very much a play about issues of social justice in our country,” Thomas said.

Life lessons that still resonate, especially today.

“It’s so much a story about growing up, about childhood. And about loss of innocence in childhood,” Thomas said.

“It’s certainly a special experience to play,” he added.

A fun fact — the little girl who played “Scout” in the 1962 movie version -is one of the characters in this cast.

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“To Kill A Mockingbird ” is at the Kimmel Cultural Campus’ Academy of Music right now through July 24.

Janelle Burrell