- Harper Lee’s only book, “To Kill a Mockingbird,” is
still a hit.
narrative takes place in Maycombe, Ala., in 1935. One cannot
forget the film version with Gregory Peck playing Atticus, the
lawyer who took on the thankless task of defending a black man
accused of raping a young white girl. The present version is
on stage at the Lake Country Players in Hartland, and though a
little uneven, is still a very impressive production of this
moving and disturbing piece.
raising his two children, Scout and Jeb, with the help of
Calpurnia, a black nanny. He lives in the midst of neighbors
who have their judgments to make about the way he is raising
the children since his wife died. Unlike some versions of this
play, the narrator of the story is a neighbor called Miss
Maudie. Some versions have Scout telling the story as an adult
with alternations between past and present.
Miss Maudie is a sympathetic observer and is well
rendered by Sandra Renick.
Jem are taking some flack from schoolmates because their
father is defending a black man. Atticus tries to explain his
reasons to them and give his children some strategies for
dealing with the ridicule and criticism of others. He himself
realizes that his own life is in danger, and he is very
concerned about his children’s safety as well, knowing the
deep-seated prejudice that exists in his town.
point of interest in the story is a neighbor whom no one has
seen for 15 years: Boo Radley, a strange agoraphobic around
whom many rumors swirl. Scout and Jem would very much like to
see him, as does Dill, a new companion who is staying with his
aunt for the summer. The roles of the children, played by
Elise Matson, Jamison Ashby and Josh MacCudden, are nicely
delineated, except in the second act when they could have been
reactive during the trial. It is harder to stay focused when
one is listening. One has to keep reminding actors that they
are hearing these words for the first time and their bodily
reactions have to reflect that reality. MacCudden is an
amazing little actor for his age. We will not soon forget
Dill. This character is supposedly based on Truman Capote, a
neighbor of Lee’s while growing up.
there are many interesting characters in this play, the
dramatic burden largely rests on the shoulders of Atticus
Finch. His performance as a father and a lawyer is largely the
focus of the story. Jim Halverson flubbed some lines at times
(opening night jitters?) but by and large is convincing as the
man of daring and integrity. His children, and the whole town
in fact, could learn a lot from him.
standouts in the cast include John Galobich as Sheriff Tate,
Bill Hitt as Mr. Gilmer, Jim Kurczewski as Bob Ewell, Hannah
Obst as Mayella Ewell, Geraldine Sime as Miss Stephanie and
Deb Lemke as Mrs. Dubose.
directed by Ruth Behrend, it is definitely worth seeing if for
no other reason than to remind us not to judge each other too
quickly, but to try to walk in each other’s shoes. A lot of
talent and hard work that went into this production.
a Mockingbird” runs through Oct. 28 at the Lake Country
Playhouse, 221 E. Capitol Drive, Hartland. For show times and
tickets, call 262-367-4697 or visit www.lakecountryplayhouse.net