To Kill a Mockingbird - Theatricum Americana

A poignant look at justice and the human spirit as told through the eyes of a young girl, Christopher Sergel’s stage adaptation of To Kill A Mockingbird, the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel by Harper Lee, continues this summer’s “Americana” season at Will Geer’s Theatricum Botanicum, opening June 13 at 7:30 p.m.

 

 

In a small Southern town during the Great Depression, the idyllic childhood of eight-year old Scout and her brother Jem is changed forever when their lawyer-father defends a poor black man accused of raping a white woman.  Through the drama of the trial and its aftermath, the children experience the harsh realities of prejudice that surround them. 

 

Richard Tyson (Black Hawk Down, There’s Something About Mary, Kindergarten Cop) heads the Theatricum cast as Scout’s father, attorney Atticus Finch.

“People who think they know the story from the movie are in for a surprise,” says director Ellen Geer. “Richard grew up in Mobile, and he brings something completely different to the role. He’s a real Alabama boy – his Atticus Finch really lives in the world with the other characters. He’s one of them.” 

 

 

Lily Andrew stars opposite Tyson as Scout, with Clint Blakely and Matthew O’Rourke alternating as Jem, and Nathan Adorney and Cameron Rose alternating as Dill. Max Lawrence portrays Tom Robinson; Earnestine Phillips is the Finch family’s housekeeper and surrogate mother, Calpurnia; and Melora Marshall is their unconventional, free-thinking neighbor, Maudie. Also in the cast are Claire Andrew (Mayella), Crystal Clark (Mrs. Robinson), Thad Geer (Bob Ewell), Tim Halligan (Heck Tate), Mark Lewis (Judge Taylor) and Gerald C. Rivers (Reverend Sykes).

 

After its publication in 1960, To Kill A Mockingbird quickly garnered acclaim, winning the Pulitzer Prize for fiction a year later. In 1962, it was made into an Academy Award-winning film starring Gregory Peck. Many of the characters and incidents in the book were inspired by Lee’s own experiences as a young girl growing up in the South.  The character of Scout’s friend and neighbor, Dill, is based on her childhood playmate, Truman Capote; the novel’s central incident, the trial of Tom Robinson, was inspired by the infamous Trials of the Scottsboro Nine that took place in the early 1930s – when Lee was about the same age as her narrator.  Dramatized for the stage by Sergel in 1990, the play is produced annually in Lee’s hometown of Monroeville, Alabama.

 

An intensely private and reserved woman who rarely makes public appearances, Lee once stated, “The novel is a love story pure and simple.  My love of the South, a father’s love for his children, and the love they give in return.” 

 

Theatricum Botanicum is renowned for its spirited productions of Shakespeare and modern classics in a spectacular outdoor setting.  Unlike most theaters in the Los Angeles area that stage continuous runs of a single play, Theatricum, using a company of actors, performs each play on a rotating basis so that it’s possible to see all five mainstage plays in a single summer weekend.  Theatricum has been named “One of the 50 Coolest Places in Los Angeles” by Buzz magazine, “One of Southern California’s most beguiling theater experiences” by Sunset, and “Best Theater in the Woods” by the LA Weekly.  The enchantment of a midsummer night at Theatricum Botanicum [makes it] crystal clear why audiences have been driving up into the hills since Theatricum’s maiden season way back in 1973.  Summer Shakespeare doesn’t get any better than this,” writes StageSceneLA.  Says Los Angeles magazine, “The amphitheater feels like a Lilliputian Hollywood Bowl, with pre-show picnics and puffy seat cushions, yet we were close enough to see the stitching on the performers costumes. Grab a blanket and a bottle and head for the hills.”

To Kill A Mockingbird opens on Saturday, June 13 at 7:30 p.m. and continues through Sept. 27. Tickets range from $10-$39.50; children 6 and under are free. Will Geer’s Theatricum Botanicum is located at 1419 North Topanga Canyon Blvd. in Topanga, midway between Malibu and the San Fernando Valley.  For a complete schedule of performances and to purchase tickets, call 310-455-3723 or TheatricumTickets also available.  Visit Theatricum on facebook.  Follow us on twitter: @theatricum.

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