Of course the original To Kill A Mockingbird is on many a banned book list. And this show should top any banned show list. It’s that terrific.

To call this the best non-musical play to come to Dallas in years doesn’t do the show justice. Richard Thomas as Atticus Finch is at the height of his career and Melanie Moore as Scout grabs the audience from her first line. I’d also like to rave about Daniel Neale who substituted as Dill Harris, giving the role just the right amount of gay for the 1930s but never overdoing it. He was fabulous.

The play takes place in 1934 in Maycomb, Alabama. Atticus, an attorney, is defending Tom Robinson, a Black man accused of raping Mayella Ewell, a white woman.

Despite presenting exculpatory evidence that Tom couldn’t have done it, well, no spoilers if you don’t know the story. But you’ll walk out of the theater remembering the word exculpatory the way you walk out of a great musical humming the music because of the way Scout explains it. Again, she’s that good.

Writer Aaron Sorkin (The West Wing) does a great job of mixing bite-sized courtroom scenes with slices of life that develop the characters of the town making this play complex and fascinating.

But what struck me is how this story is exactly what racist book-banners want erased from our history but instead should be taught over and over. Mayella’s false statements on the witness stand are reminiscent of the 1950s accuser of Emmitt Till. And then a scene outside the jail has members of the Klan threatening to do to Tom exactly what happened in Texas to James Byrd in the 1990s. History repeats itself and should be taught not banned.

And in another scene, the kids argue that the Civil War was over 70 years ago but Atticus reminds us that every time some southerners see a free Black person, it reminds them of the defeat. And in Dallas, remember the furor over removing a statue from a Dallas park just a few years ago? To Kill A Mockingbird takes place 90 years ago and yet it’s still so current. The play is gripping from beginning to end.

To Kill A Mockingbird runs at Fair Park Music Hall through May 28. Although the performance I saw was sold out, tickets for the rest of the run are available at BroadwayDallas.org.

David Taffet