Harper Lee’s classic story, To Kill a Mockingbird, adapted for the stage by Christopher Sergel, comes to Wheatridge Middle School’s Auditorium for a weekend run, beginning Oct. 18 featuring a large cast ranging in age from elementary school to senior citizen and chocked-full of local talent, some making their debut with this production.
The Tallgrass Theatre Company of Gardner, KS, assembled a talented cast and crew for the heartwarming story that pits blacks against whites in a courtroom drama set in Mississippi during the Great Depression Era. The epic story comes to life via narration of the main character, Scout, as she is known as child, and Jean Louise, as she is known as an adult. Jean Louise tells the story in flashback and focuses on one fall in about 1935 when a black man is charged with beating up and molesting a white 19-year-old woman in Mississippi. Tom Robinson, the black man is accused of forcing himself on Mayella Ewing and awaiting his trial. Atticus Finch a local attorney in the town is assigned by the judge to defend Tom Robinson against the accusation.
The main story begins with Jean Louise recalling that fall as Scout and recounting the story to the audience. Scout and her brother Jem live with their father Atticus and his housekeeper cook, Capurnia, who serves as Scout’s mother figure since her mother died when she was only two.
The play, like the book and the movie of the same name, takes a long time to develop and involve the audience. The main focus of the early story is the introduction and establishment of the central characters that play out the rest of the piece. About halfway through one, the story picks up as the courtroom drama begins to unfold to the audience.
Director Sandy Miller assembled a very competent cast to present To Kill a Mockingbird to the Gardner community. The production is led by Misti Robinson and Gracia Lewis as the adult Jean Louis’s Finch and the young Scout. The lead actor comes to life in the form of Craig Shove as Atticus Finch. The villains in this story come in the form of Anna Oberheide as Mayella Ewell, and Mark Westerman as Bob Ewell. Their performances set the standard for the Tallgrass production of the show.
Also giving good portrayals are Jesse Miller as Heck Tate the sheriff, Melroy McKelvey as the accused Tom Robinson, and Blake Suarez at Jem Finch.
With any good production, much of the story depends on the main characters to give the story movement and value, but without a good supporting cast the show can collapse. Credit Miller with finding and coaching good performances from the supporting cast as well. Without a competent supporting cast the show has no color or mood to establish a really concrete storyline to entertain the audience.
The cast includes: Scott Bott as Dill Harris, Sharon Johnson as Calpurnia, Missy Brown as Miss Maudie, Pam Douglass as Ms. Stephanie, Natalia Catlett as Mrs. Dubose, Mike Brumet as Judge Taylor, Scott Valenti as Mr. Gilmer, Wayne Oberheide as Mr. Cunningham, Kevin Keltner as Nathan and Boo Radley, Stephanie Young as Helen Robinson, Alex Keltner as Link Dias, Joe Louis S. Bubba Joe Bob Junior, Chris Waterman and Cecil Jacobs, Angel Santander as Bailiff and Court Clerk, Rilee Douglass as Angel May, Alejandro Santander as Walter Cunningham, Jr., Madison Brown as Ribbons Royal, Tatum Graham as Tootsie Robinson, Sola Johnson as Sarah Robinson, McKenna Douglass as Marilou Delafield, Sidney Brooks and Sally Mae, Katrinka Santander as Drinking Granny, Emeri Erickson and Henley Erickson as Ruby and Rachel Royal.
For evening entertainment based on a heart-warming story of justice versus injustice in the South, plan to attend the Tallgrass Theatre Company’s production of To Kill a Mockingbird and Wheatridge Middle School in Gardner, KS.