“To Kill A Mockingbird,” will be brought to life on the Coleman Theatre stage by the Miami Little Theatre on Feb. 23–26.
MIAMI— The modern American literature classic, “To Kill A Mockingbird,” will be brought to life on the Coleman Theatre stage by the Miami Little Theatre on Feb. 23–26.
Directed by Aaron Smith of “The Shadow Box,” and Phillip Shamblin of “DeathTrap,” this adaptation by Christopher Sergel follows Scout, Jem and Dill as they witness the legendary Atticus Finch defend Tom Robinson, a wrongfully accused black man in the Depression-era South.
The audience will travel back in time through the use of period costumes assisted by Rachel Sanda and Pamela Catt and set design created by Bud Catt.
Harper Lee’s timeless novel was set in the mid-1930s but its themes continue to be present in our modern day society.
“MLT has never produced ‘To Kill A Mockingbird,’ making it artistically alluring,” Smith said. “I pitched it for its message, which I feel is still important today. I hope people realize this isn't ancient history. It's not over. The world isn't finished fighting inequality.”
“Although Mockingbird is set in 1935, when attitudes and perceptions were much different than today, we still face this same kind of prejudice and bigotry,” Shamblin said. “Whether it’s towards people of color, ethnicity or the LGBT community.”
All of the characters from Lee's classic novel will be portrayed in the play by actors of all different backgrounds.
“I think the characters are what makes this such a renowned book,” Shamblin said. “From the civilized and always just Atticus Finch, the courageous yet naive Scout, to the curious and sophisticated Dill- these are all highly identifiable and relatable characters.”
The actors and their characters include:
Madalyn Weeks as Jean Louise “Scout” Finch; Nikolas Warner as Jeremy ‘Jem’ Finch; Zachary Thomas as Atticus Finch; Shariece Tate as Calpurnia; Pamela Catt as Maudie Atkinson; Jennifer Smith as Stephanie Crawford; Judy Pitman as Mrs. Dubose; Brandon Mauldin as Arthur Radley (Boo); Elijah Sanda as Charles Baker Harris (Dill); Ross Tomlinson as Heck Tate; Robert McKibben as Judge Taylor; Mg Marogo as Reverend Sykes; Linden Linthicum as Mayella Ewell; Daniel McGuire as Bob Ewell; Andrew Medlin as Walter Cunningham; Jeffrey Haynes as Mr. Gilmer; Adrian Lewis as Tom Robinson; David Sanda as Clerk; Dillon Rasberry as the Offstage Voices; Ensemble – Letara Price, Tierney Credit, Teagan Credit, Grayson Birch, Abraham Mutebi, and Sam Smith.
“The cast has worked very hard, as well as the set designers and costumers,” Smith said. “This show isn't mine or Phillip’s, it belongs to the community.”
Smith and Shamblin both agreed that the cast has made this play unlike any others they have directed in the past.
“This is a bigger cast than Phillip and I have directed together before, and we've had to rely on a lot of help we don't require on smaller plays,” Smith said. “It takes a community to raise a theater.”
“For me personally, what makes this play different is the cast,” Shamblin said. “Such a diverse group of people. It has been a highlight of my time with MLT to work with such a talented cast of actors.”
The play will consist of two acts and will be approximately two hours long. Smith said the play adaptation will be similar to the book but will “provide more of a crisp version of the story.”
“This adaptation focuses on the trial, on racial prejudice,” Smith said. “Many of the elements in the story not directly associated with that message are either abridged or removed entirely.”
The play’s storyline highlights prejudice, human dignity and what it was like growing up in the South more than 80 years ago.
“The biggest question we got (from the actors) was concerning the use of the "n" word,” Shamblin said. “Most of the actors were not comfortable using that language, especially on stage. However, in order to give a true representation of the story, we had no choice but to keep it.”
“We used Sergel's words, who in turn used Harper Lee's words,” Smith said. “We worked on how those words are said, and where the actors stand, what they do. Our version is unique. It's art.”
Even though the content of the play is highly debated as “racist” or “controversial,” it reflects America’s history and all age groups are encouraged to see the show.
“The subject of the play shouldn't be a secret to any age,” Smith said.
“I would encourage everyone to see this play, regardless of age,” Shamblin said. “Keep in mind, it is a drama, so very young children may not understand what is happening or have the patience to sit through a two-hour show.”
Area teachers are encouraged to discuss the novel with their students and encourage them to attend the show. Several local English and literature teachers have said they will provide extra credit with a ticket stub or punch card, which will be provided by the directors after the show. For more information, ask your school for details.
The directors hope that the audience leaves with one message in mind – love one another.
“The audience is the solution to inequality,” Smith said. “Accept everyone and be the love you want to see in the world.”
“My hope is that perhaps this play will remind audiences not to pass judgment so quickly,” Shamblin said. “As Atticus says, ‘you never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view.’”
Showtimes are 7:30 p.m. from Feb. 23-25 with a matinee performance on Feb. 26 at 2:30 p.m.
Tickets are $15 for adults and $10 each for students and senior citizens. Tickets can be reserved by phone at 918-540-2425 or purchased at the Coleman Theatre box office.
Kimberly W. Barker is a staff writer for the Miami News-Record. She can be emailed at email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter @MiamiNews_hound.