Company Theatre's current show is Harper Lee's "To Kill a Mockingbird" adapted for the stage by Christopher Sergel. The book was written in 1960 and won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction in 1961. The well known film version in 1962 starred Gregory Peck. The show is a coming of age story of the innocence of childhood. It takes place in the middle of the Depression in Maycomb, Alabama in 1935. Scout and her brother, Jem take the audience on their summer of discovery in a neighborhood of eccentrics. From their father, Atticus Finch, they learn about compassion when a crisis of social conscience rocks their sleepy town. Their father defends a black man falsely accused of raping a white woman. Her father is a ne'er do well who lies on the witness stand, gets embarrassed by Atticus and threatens him and his two children. The children learn about the harsh realities of life from the unfair verdict of the trial and they also learn from their father that most people are real nice once you get to know them. This story is just as powerful today as it was when it was written back in 1960 with its heart warming portrayals. Directors Steve Dooner and Zoe Bradford cast this incredibly moving and well written show extremely well and their cast shines all night long especially the three performers playing the Finch family. This masterpiece of American literature is a masterpiece of theatre which is rewarded with many tears and a thunderous standing ovation. Bravo.
Steve and Zoe mix the comic and dramatic elements of the show perfectly. Their blocking and direction sparkle and shine all night long. Joe Siriani is magnificent as Atticus Finch. The courtroom scene in Act 2 is splendid as he defends an innocent black man. Joe's dialogue crackles during this scene, leaving the audience breathless with its power. 9 year old Clara Baumgarten as Scout is phenomenal in this role. From her Southern accent to her excellent line delivery as this young innocent child caught up in the crazy events of the town, she is an actress with a great future ahead of her. Equally stunning is Danny Tobin, a seventh grader, who is fantastic as the mischievous, Jem. He recently played the Genie in Aladdin, showing he can handle comic and dramatic roles at an early age. Danny also has a great future ahead of him as actor. Both these kids handle enormous amounts of dialogue with the ease of much older actors and they command the stage during the first act with their acting prowess.
The fabulous set was designed and created by Ron DeMarco. It consists of the outside of two houses, the Finches and the Radley's as well as a courtroom set for the second act. Ron created them on turntables and the houses look very realistic and beautiful. Many talented actors appear in the show but due to limited space I can only mention a few of them. Another child actor who does a great job in the show is Sam Nudler as Dill, the young Finchs friend. He climbs over the fence numerous times and eggs Jem and Scout to bother the Radleys. Sheriff Heck Tate is well played by Frank Piekut. He tries to control the situation about Tom put fails but redeems himself by saying the villain of the show killed himself, saving Boo. Boo Radley doesn't appear until near the end of the show but he is played with quiet warmth and great feeling by George Kippenham. He rescues Jem from the murderous Bob Ewell who is wonderfully played by Gerry Bova. Ewell is a slimy, evil man who beats his daughter but blames it on Tom. His deluded slutty daughter, Maryella is well played by Jean McNamara. Another bitchy person in the show is Mrs. Dubose, an old, prejudiced and nasty woman who is rude to Scout and Jem. She is played very well by Jennifer Duval White. The sympathetic maid, Calpurnia is well played by Jeanette Lake-Jackson. The innocent defendant, Tom is played by Raphael Rawlins who gains the audience's sympathy with his heartwarming portrayal. Kudos to everyone who made this a show to be very proud of. So for a topnotch show of a classic novel, be sure to catch "To Kill a Mockingbird" at Company Theatre. You will be very glad you did.