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NEW YORK — Russell Harvard has been waiting not so patiently for this his entire career. And now, at long last, for a deaf actor channeled inexorably into deaf roles, the moment has arrived:

Playing a hearing character.

Harvard is part of the (mostly) new cast of Broadway’s hit production of “To Kill a Mockingbird,” with Ed Harris following Jeff Daniels as Atticus Finch and LisaGay Hamilton succeeding LaTanya Richardson as the housekeeper Calpurnia. Harvard assumes two supporting parts: Boo Radley, the mysterious, rarely seen neighbor of the intimidated youngsters, Scout and Jem Finch, and more prominently Link Deas, the inscrutable local dismissed as a drunk.

And here’s the thing that blew away Harvard, recently seen here as a demonstrably deaf Cornwall in the Glenda Jackson “King Lear”: Neither producer Scott Rudin, nor director Bartlett Sher, wanted him to play Link or Boo as deaf.

“For the first time, ever,” the actor says during a conversation at Sardi’s, the storied theater district restaurant, across from the Shubert Theatre, where Aaron Sorkin’s stage version of the Harper Lee novel has been playing for a year. Harvard says Sher had to explain what he wanted three times before he could fully grasp it.

“Not about being hearing, not about being deaf,” Harvard recalls Sher telling him. “I said, ‘Okay, is there an interpreter in the courtroom scene, when they’re asking me questions?’ ”

Nope, there would be no fixed intermediary between Harvard and the audience: He was to play a character who simply signs to communicate. The idea would be reinforced by the play’s narrators, the actors playing Scout (Nina Grollman), Jem (Nick Robinson) and their friend Dill (Taylor Trensch), who would recite the lines that Link silently signs. A few other times, though, Harvard — who has some residual hearing and strong vocal skills — would speak his own lines as he signed. But there would be no instance in which someone had to interpret for Harvard’s character. As Harvard put it succinctly about Link: “I hear.”