Thursday, January 22, 2015

The Orlando Shakespeare Theater presents "To Kill a Mockingbird".


I went to the dress rehearsal for "To Kill a Mockingbird" at the Orlando Shakespeare Theater. I was surprised to find an audience waiting to get into the theater.  I decided to slip into the theater and start the sketch before the house was open. I paused for a long time, because the balconies had their metal railings removed. I realized they were now part of the stage set. Directed by Thomas Ouellette, Christopher Sergel's adaptation of Harper Lee's Pulitzer Prize winning novel came to life on the Margeson Theater stage.  The movie based adaptation is a classic and one of my favorite films, so this show had some big shoes to fill.

The audience was full of students from Columbia College and many were African American which made this particular performance quite compelling. I knew about the students and faculty because one man introduced himself to me saying we had met at an event a while back.  For some reason he thanked me and explained that many of the people from his campus would have never been to a play. I realized after he walked away that he must have mistook my for someone else. I guess when you are busy sketching, you look like you are in charge. Whoever invited the Columbia College group, you should know that they are thankful.

The story is told through the eyes of six year old Scout (Kennedy Joy Foristall ). As a tense tug of war between justice and racism heats up, Scout and her family must learn to temper violence and hatred with courage and compassion. Based on the Pulitzer Prize winning novel, To Kill a Mockingbird continues to inspire hope in the face of inequality. The moral of the story as told by Atticus Finch (Warren Kelley) is "You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view . . . until you climb into his skin and walk around in it." Scout held her own as a tom boy who always gets into fights and has no filter when speaking her mind.

The set, designed by Bert Scott gave a strong backdrop of the depression Era south. This really is an important show to see since there are always injustices that some accept. Sometimes a person is called on to shake off the dust of these backwards beliefs. The shows title relates to the idea that "Mockingbirds don’t do one thing but make music for us to enjoy . . . but sing their hearts out for us. That’s why it’s a sin to kill a mockingbird.” Toward the end of the production, Sheriff Heck Tate (John Ahlin) explained to Atticus, "To my way of thinking, taking the one man who's done you and this town a big service and dragging him with his shy ways into the limelight - to me that's a sin." Sometimes a community isn't best served by following the letter of the law but rather the spirit of the law. "Let the dead berry the dead."

"To Kill a Mockingbird"
What: A drama written by Harper Lee and adapted for the stage by Christopher Sergel
Where: Orlando Shakespeare Theater,  Margeson Theater 812 East Rollins Street, Orlando FL
When: Opens Friday, Jan. 21; 7:30 p.m. through March 8.
Cost: $10 to $45
Call: (407) 447-1700
Online: www.orlandoshakes.org


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