Review: ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ rings true at the Bonstelle Theatre

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You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view–until you climb inside of his skin and walk around in it. To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee

The Bonstelle Theatre, under the discerning direction of Lavinia Hart, has brought Harper Lee’s American classic to the stage. Dramatized by Christopher Sergel, the Pulitzer prize-winning To Kill a Mockingbird examines the big themes of fear, ignorance, morality, courage, and innocence.

Set in the south during America’s Great Depression, it’s a compelling story told from the perspective of young Scout Finch. Her father, Atticus Finch, a small-town lawyer, tries to teach Scout and her brother Jem the importance of respecting the differences between people while recognizing the essential qualities that make us all the same. As he defends a young black man wrongly accused of attacking a white woman, the lesson becomes one the children barely survive.

Still required reading in most schools, the book has stood the test of time by opening the eyes of generations of readers to issues that are still relevant today.

This Bonstelle production brings the story alive, with fine, restrained performances from the entire cast. As an added bonus, live gospel choir music performed by the cast underscores some of the play’s most poignant moments.

We only hope that area school children will be able to see this production.  We certainly encourage parents of middle-school aged kids and older to take them to this show.

To celebrate the 50th anniversary of the novel’s publication, the Bonstelle Theatre has made arrangements with libraries and bookstores in the metro Detroit area to encourage further exploration of Harper Lee’s classic. Promotional materials for the new edition books will be available at the Detroit Main, Baldwin, Caroline Kennedy, Ferndale Public, and Grosse Pointe Libraries, as well as Barnes and Noble in Royal Oak and at the Wayne State University bookstore.  Display tables will include background information about the play and book, Wayne State University actor biographies, souvenir bookmarks, and a chance to win complimentary tickets to the show.  Displays will be set up from November 12 until December 12, 2010.

In addition, as a special offer from WSU, To Kill a Mockingbird is being paired with the Hilberry Theatre’s production of John Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men.  Chosen as audience favorites, patrons can attend both award-winning American masterpieces for $25.  Contact the Theatre Box Office and ask for ‘The American Literature Classics’ package to reserve tickets.

To Kill a Mockingbird runs from December 3-12, 2010.  Tickets are $12-15 and are available by calling the Theatre Box Office at 313-577-2960, online, or by visiting the box office at 4743 Cass Ave. on the corner of Cass Ave. and Hancock.

The cast includes:

Robbie Dwight (Detroit, MI) Atticus Finch, Nicholas Yocum (Royal Oak, MI) Jeremy “Jem” Finch, Siena Hassett (Grosse Pointe Park, MI) Jean Louise Scout” Finch, Matthew Miazgowicz (Dearborn, MI)  Dill, Ciarah Mosley (Detroit, MI) Calpurnia, Joe Hamid (Coral Springs, FL) Arthur “Boo” Radley, Alexander Schott (White Lake, MI) Nathan Radley, Kerianne Fergurson (Detroit, MI) Maudie Atkinson, Patrick Loos (Highland, MI) Bob Ewell, Caitlin Morrison (Romeo, MI) Mayella Ewell, Taurean Hogan (Detroit, MI) Tom Robinson, Nancy Florkowski (Redford, MI) Mrs. Dubose, Cal M. Schwartz (Dearborn, MI) Judge Taylor, Dave Cowan (Detroit, MI) Heck Tate, Steve Carson (Grosse Pointe, MI) Mr. Gilmer, Markell Easter (Detroit, MI) Reverend Sykes, Sharayah Johnson (Birch Run, MI) Stephanie Crawford, and Tim Stone (Toledo, OH) Walter Cunningham.

The cast is accentuated by an ensemble consisting of William Turbett (Dearborn, MI) Clerk, Derrell Jones (Detroit, MI) Choir Director, Amber Gale (Detroit, MI) Church Choir Member #1, Ivy Haralson (Belleville, MI) Church Choir Member #2, andCecilia Shropshire (Detroit, MI) Church Choir Member #3.

 

The creative team includes:

Meghan Lynch, Production Stage Manager; Mike Waldrup, Assistant Stage Manager; Jessica Van Essen, Costume Designer; Jon Weaver, Lighting Designer; Adam Crinson, Scenic Designer; Tyler Ezell, Sound Designer; Fred Florkowski, Technical Director; Wayne David Parker, Fight Choreographer; Regina Spain, Properties Master; and Richard L. Fosbrink, Publicity Manager.

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