BY MARY KAY SWEIKAR
Red Mask Players will enact for the first time Harper Lee’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, “To Kill a Mockingbird,” beginning Friday.
The play will be presented Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, and also Feb. 8, 9, 10 at the Kathryn Randolph Theater, 601 N. Vermilion St.
Published in 1960, Lee’s book was immediately successful, and has become a classic of modern American literature. The primary themes involve racial injustice and the destruction of innocence. Lee also addresses issues of class, courage, compassion and gender roles in the American Deep South.
The protagonist of the play, a young girl living in a quiet southern town in the 1930s, is about to experience a series of dramatic events that will change her life. She and her brother, Jem, are being raised by their widowed father Atticus and the strong-minded housekeeper Calpurnia.
The curious girl — nicknamed “Scout” — is fascinated with the people of her small town, but from the start of the play, there is some turmoil brewing under the surface. The black residents in the community have a special feeling about Scout’s father, and she doesn’t know why. Also, a few of her white friends are inexplicably hostile, and Scout doesn’t understand this either.
Unpleasant words are shouted and the bewildered girl turns to her father for answers. Atticus is a lawyer, and he explains to his daughter that he’s defending a young black man who has been wrongfully accused of a serious crime.
Director Leslie Boedicker said, “In each of our lives is a story that comes along at the right time and touches us and stays with us. ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ is mine.”
Boedicker first encountered the movie as a young girl, and she immediately identified with the lead character, Scout.
“As I grew up and began exploring my own minority background, I read the novel and sympathized even more with Scout’s incomprehension of the hatred that emerged from the people around her,” she said.
“In ‘To Kill a Mockingbird,’ we celebrate the power of the characters, their determination, and their fight against a social system that refused to change,” Boedicker added, “as well as Scout’s sincere desire to understand why there needs to be such trouble between people.”
Andrew Peters, who plays Atticus Finch, said he is enjoying being part of this famous play that he is very familiar with. “‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ conveys a message that is just as important today as when it was written, 53 years ago,” Peters said.
Other cast members include Isabelle Peters as Scout, Carsen White as Jem, Shelia Burton as Calpurnia, Nancy Keener as Maudie and Lisa Richter as Stephanie.
Other actors are Tori Rahn as Mrs. Dubose, Brandon Parks as Tom Robinson, Brooke Kuchefski as Mayella Ewell and Dave Techtow as Bob Ewell.
Also in the show are Noah Acree, Jim Crain, Greg Apple, Dave Downing, Andrew Cook, Tim Kirby, Dean Kirby, Blake Berenz and Andrew Stafford.
Gail Garner is the producer, and June Wynn is stage manager.
Garner said, “Like all classic dramas, this play has its lighter moments with some humorous lines. It conveys a good message and should appeal to audiences of every age.
“When the audience walks into the theater they will see a very nice and very involved set for the size of the stage,” Garner said. He added that Dave Techtow is responsible for constructing the set, which includes three independent houses.
The Allen Chapel A.M.E. Chapelaires Choir will sing during the play, and also will perform on stage before the show begins.
If you go
“To Kill a Mockingbird” will be presented Friday, Saturday and Sunday, and Feb. 8,9,10 at the Kathryn Randolph Theater, 601 N. Vermilion. To reserve tickets, call 442-5858 or visit the website at http://www.redmaskplayers.com.
Curtain time is 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 2 p.m. Sundays. The box office opens at 7 p.m. on performance nights. Tickets cost $15 for adults, $12 for seniors 60 and older and $10 for students.