TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD
Novel by Harper Lee
Dramatization by Christopher Sergal
Richardson Theatre Centre
Director: Rachael Lindley
Set Designer: Charlie Alexander, Charles E Moore, Rachael Lindley
Stage Manager: Greg Phillips
Tree Design: LaRita Stephens
Technical Master: Richard Stephens
Sound Design: Richard Stephens, Rachael Lindley
Lighting Designer: Richard Stephens, Rachael Lindley,
Prop Masters: Rachael Lindley
Costumer: Rachael Lindley
Morgan Spollin: Jean Louise
Laura Warner: Calpurnia
Victoria Gilchrist: Scout
Lauren Sinz: Various
Elaine Erback: Miss Maudie Atkinson
Greg Phillips: Heck Tate
Henry Hartman: Judge Taylor
Fradonna Griffin: Miss Stephanie Crawford
Libby Goldman: Mrs. Dubose
Brandon Simmons: Jem Finch
Fred Thompson: Reverend Sykes
Katy Kirkwood: Mayella
David Lambert: Bob Ewell
Riley Niksich: Dill
Chris Stakem: Nathan Radley
Ted Strahan: Atticus Finch
Becky Byrley: Mrs. Cunningham
Paul Flanagan II: Tom Robinson
Richard Stephens: Mr. Gilmer
Chris Stakem: Boo Radley
Reviewed Performance 7/1/2011
Reviewed by Shelley Kaehr, Associate Critic for John Garcia's THE COLUMN
The thing I love most about theater is how artists are able to take a play we're all familiar with and turn it into something fresh and new, which is exactly what Director Rachael Lindley has done with her adaptation of Harper Lee's To Kill A Mockingbird.
This stage adaptation is written by Christopher Sergal and features narration during each stage of the story by the now-grown-up Scout who calls herself by her real name, Jean Louise. Morgan Spollin brilliantly delivers the challenging role with heartfelt sincerity. After the show I spoke with several cast members about this rendition which varies greatly from the version where neighbor Miss Maudie Atkinson narrates. I personally enjoy the Sergal version better because as a novelist myself I feel getting into the inner minds of the adult as she looks back fondly on her father's bravery is a wonderful way to dig into the meat of the novel.
The theater itself is an absolutely gorgeous venue! The lobby is lush and inviting, painted in homey beige with comfortable seating and looks more like the interior of a McMansion than a theater and the staff is friendly and welcoming.
The entire Mockingbird cast is outstanding, beginning with sixth grader Victoria Gilchrist's outstanding job as Scout.
Brandon Simmons's portrayal of Jem Finch is a highlight particularly in the scene where he destroys the flowers of sickly neighbor, Mrs. Dubose (Libby Goldman). He showcases his emotional depth and acting range, and I have to say my friend and I both love eight-year-old Riley Niksich who plays Dill with super spunk and a mischievous grin. He is really cute and the entire audience eats out of the palm of his hand. In Riley's bio he says he wants to be an actor someday and I for one thing he's got a great shot.
Laura Morgan is superb as Calpurnia ? just the right amount of feisty blended with sorrow to bounce off her friend and spiritual mentor, Reverend Sykes (Fred Thompson). Thompson's portrayal is outstanding, and the costuming for this character adds to his believability.
I also greatly enjoy Henry Hartman's turn as the crotchety judge ? played with ease - and Greg Phillips' Heck Tate is as good as any I've seen. After the show I had a chance to meet Greg and expected a thick Southern accent. I was surprised he didn't have one! Great job!
One of the toughest roles in this show is that of Bob Ewell (David Lambert), the wicked lying drunk who orchestrates the accusations against Tom Robinson (Paul Flanagan II). Meeting David without his makeup on I find he's the nicest guy in the world. The costume and makeup artists are to be commended for "scruffing" him up which adds tremendously to his wonderful acting. And speaking of makeup, the detail to Katy Kirkwood's Mayella blows me away. She portrays the role with tremendous ability enhanced by the fact she really is covered in dirt from head to toe. Even her legs are dirty, and her shoes covered in dust. Super job making us believe this lady really does crawl out of the meanest levels of poverty.
Paul Flanagan II's heartfelt portrayal of Tom Robinson is emotional and well cast and I really appreciate the double role Chris Strakem plays as both Nathan and Boo Radley. Using costuming and different hairstyles, he doesn't appear to be the same person.
The glue to hold all these super performances together is delivered expertly by Ted Strahan's amazing turn as Atticus Finch, a role he plays with just the right amount of stern expression and warm compassion.
Much is to be said about the production crew and the unique approach to set design and lighting. I absolutely love the set which is scaled back in terms of complexity, and the use of slides as backdrops for all the major settings. The homes are each different photos which help the audience keep track of the plot, and during the scene in the woods where Jem is attacked the stormy photos are enhanced with sound effects and lighting to heighten the suspense.
Costuming is also key in this adaptation as every small detail is adhered to including the tears in Miss Mayella's dress and the southern feel in the dresses the ladies wear in the chorus.
Overall this is an outstanding production and highly recommended. I am again reminded why this play continues to be so popular ? the message is still timely and important.
I'd like to believe our modern culture has outgrown racial tensions portrayed in this program yet the themes of men and women being stuck in old ways, unwilling to see truth, blaming scapegoats for problems is one still prevalent in modern times.
Congratulations to Rachael Lindley and the entire cast and crew of To Kill A Mockingbird for a job well done. I'll be looking forward to more great shows at RTC in the future.
TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD
Richardson Theatre Centre, 2701 Custer Parkway, Suite 911
Richardson, TX 75080
Runs through July 17, 2011
Thursdays Dinner and Show at 7:30 pm, Fridays & Saturdays at 8:00pm, and Sunday matinees at 2:00pm
Ticket Prices: Friday/Saturday $22.00; Sunday Matinee $20.00
Theatre info can be found at www.richardsontheatrecentre.net
Individual and season ticket order form can be found online and mailed to the address above or simply call 972-699-1130.