‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ teaches important lessons | TheUnion.com

‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ teaches important lessons

Some theater pieces are mysterious. Some are for fun. But LeGacy Production’s latest theatrical endeavor, “To Kill a Mockingbird,” contains a solid education on the evils of racial injustice as well as illuminating issues of class, gender, courage and compassion.

“To Kill a Mockingbird,” by Harper Lee, was published in 1960 and is considered a modern classic. It earned her a Pulitzer Prize and has been translated into more than 40 languages. In 1962, the movie version debuted with Gregory Peck in the lead role of Atticus Finch, a lawyer in the Deep South of 1935 who defends a black man unjustly accused of raping a white woman. The stage version now showing at the Nevada Theatre was adapted from Harper Lee’s book by Christopher Sergel in 1970.

When I walked into the theater, I immediately noticed the set, beautifully designed by Verne Freer. I also liked how Tim O’Connor, the play’s director, used the various houses and porches that are part of the set for entrances, exits, the jail, the spectator seating at the courthouse.

I found the pacing of the play overly slow, and the Southern accents that the actors assumed were done with varying degrees of success, perhaps because it was only the second public performance. That’s the unfortunate quandary for a reviewer – I see a play at the beginning of its run, often before the performances and dynamic fully mature and gel.

Dave Iorns was nicely cast as the honorable and quietly courageous Atticus Finch. Maudie Atkinson, Atticus’s neighbor and the play’s occasional narrator, was warmly played by Judy Blake. Nicky Lofgren (Jem) and Emily Johnson (Scout) were well-cast as Atticus’s somewhat precocious and individualistic children, with Finn McCary spot-on as their friend Dill. Frances Boero was believable as Mayella Ewell, the young woman who accuses Tom Robinson (in a gentle performance by Harold Bordenave) of rape. Mayella’s creepy father, Bob, was menacingly played by Bruce Kelly. Kristin Alcamo-Williams as Atticus’s housekeeper Calpurnia illuminated the essence of that caring woman.

The book on which this play is based is widely read in classrooms, for its lessons on tolerance, honor and compassion. This production well conveys those same excellent lessons, using both humor and drama. Go see “To Kill a Mockingbird” playing at the Nevada Theatre through Nov. 7 to remind yourself why these issues are eternal and important.

Hindi Greenberg likes plays that present a message and hopes that the points made in this production are learned by all children and relearned by all adults.

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