Review: To Kill a MockingbirdBy Laura & Mike Clark • Feb 11th, 2006 • Category: Reviews
Listen to our review of Prince William Little Theatre’s production of To Kill a Mockingbird [MP3 7:28 6.8MB].
Mike: To Kill a Mockingbird was written by Harper Lee. It’s the story of 1935 Alabama. There’s been a crime committed by a black man against a white woman. And the turmoil that erupts in the town afterwards including the trial of the gentleman. It was a good story.
Laura: It was a good story.
Mike: A very important story.
Laura: Very timeless. The story brings out talking about good versus evil, standing up for what you believe in even if that’s not what the crowd believes in.
Mike: The central character is Atticus Finch. He’s the lawyer representing Tom Robinson, the black gentleman who has been accused of a crime. He’s the guiding wisdom, not of the town necessarily, but the guiding wisdom of his children that he is trying to raise on his own with the housekeeper’s help. He imparts little life lessons throughout the show. The kids talk about it betweeen themselves and the next door neighbor. They don’t quite understand, “why does he do these things? I thought he didn’t know how to shoot.” All the things that are really important to children, but to parents, those things aren’t quite important.
Laura: It was really good. He did well with it. One thing I can comment on is he did play it like he was trying to play Gregory Peck.
Mike: Herb Tax was the actor we saw last night. Gregory Peck played this role on the big screen, got an Academy Award. It was considered his life’s defining role. He had a heck of a movie career so that’s a lot to step into.
Laura: He wasn’t Gregory Peck.
Mike: He wasn’t Gregory Peck and that’s something. Nobody’s Gregory Peck. So that’s just a hard role to step into. But, the inflections and things he was going for didn’t feel right.
Laura: I could agree with that. They were a little, I wouldn’t say off, but the timing wasn’t quite right.
Mike: There were times where Atticus was trying to teach the children about a fact and he would think, but it felt more like a pause as opposed to a thought running through his head of how to deal with something. He was a little too stiff. Maybe he needed, this is just a thought, maybe he needed something to be doing with his hands. I guess I need to watch the movie again to see what Gregory Peck was doing, but I want to say he had a pipe. I might be totally wrong.
Laura: I don’t remember.
Mike: He needed something. You’re a little limited. The stage was nice. The set was simple.
Laura: It was simple, but they were able to bring out the courtroom scene they did turn into a courtroom scene, which I thought was very good. The house where Scout and Jem and Atticus Finch lived with the housekeper was nice. It was simple, but it was effective.
Mike: One of the problems comparing it to the movie, any kind of movie production; you’ve got lots of sets you can use. The insides, the kitchen, the side of the house, the front of the house, the porch, the sidewalk. So you’re limited on the stage because you can’t do as many sets so that kind of limited what Herb Tax could do with the character because he didn’t have as much opportunity to have extra props that he could do things with.
Laura: That’s true. The sound was alright. It was in a school gymnasium. There were no mikes, they were just projecting and they did ok.
Mike: Except when the heat kicked on. And every time the heat kicked on it was kind of hard to hear the actors.
Laura: It was hard to distinguish what they were saying. But they did well. Some projected more effectively than others.
Mike: The three children did ok. You could hear them for the most part.
Laura: Except when the heat kicked on.
Mike: Except when the heat kicked on.
Laura: One of the actors I liked was Tom Robinson who was accused of the crime against the white woman. His name is Jeffrey T. Morris. I thought he did really well. He was very expressive. When Atticus called him up to the stand and he stood up his left arm was crippled and Mike and I watched for the rest of the show to make sure it stayed that way and he did. He held it until the final bow and then he let go, but he did really well with that. Keeping that in character.
Mike: He stayed with the pronounciations of an uneducated black man from the 30’s. Did pretty well with it. Must have been hard to learn. I don’t know how you learn to speak uneducated, but he did well with it.
Laura: He did very well with it. It came across in his emotions and his expressions.
Mike: A few times he did glance at the actress playing his wife and he mouthed words to her acoss the courtroom. She was overcome with grief or anger or whatever feelings she was feeling. They did well together. They never had any lines together, but you could see a conection there. I really liked watching the character of Bob Ewell, played by Tom Pentecost. He was the father of the girl who was attacked by Tom. He had to do a whole range of emotions from anger to laughing and enjoying that something had happened, not going to give too much away. He had no lines for a good part of the trial, but he kept reacting to what Atticus was asking of the witnesss. He kept reacting correctly and was very believable.
Laura: Yes, very believable. Came through in his emotions and his actions.
Mike: He had a good presence for that part. It was a good show. Started off a little rough in the first part, the first act. There were a lot of people at the show. They had to bring in extra chairs, they the Prince William Little Theatre. I don’t know if they were surprised. Maybe a lot of people were coming because of the snow tonight. There were a lot of children with families. Maybe it was a school assignment to come see To Kill a Mockingbird, that’s fine, but it was a pretty good size crowd.
Laura: Yes it was. To Kill a Mockingbird is playing for the next two weekends in Manassas at the elementary school.
Mike: I think you should go and see it if you haven’t seen a live version of To Kill a Mockingbird. It does get you right into the action. It raises a lot of questions that maybe you haven’t had to ask yourself: How do I teach my children how to live their lives? How do I respect others?
Laura: How do I stand up for what’s right even if it’s not what the crowd thinks is right?
Mike: How do you stand apart from the crowd? There were lots of life lessons imparted through this. So I think you’d enjoy yourself. I think you’ll learn about yourself, too. Maybe answer some of the questions that were brought out from To Kill a Mockingbird.
Laura: And now, on with the show.
- Jean Louise Finch: Candi Baker
- Calpurnia: Lolita-Marie
- Scout: Meyrem Baer
- Miss Maudie Atkinson: Maudie Atkinson
- Heck Tate: Pete Sampogna
- Judge Taylor: Speros-Neforos
- Miss Stephanie Crawford: Penny McKee Weis
- Jem: Timothy Sampson
- Mrs. Dubose: Fran Palm
- Reverend Sykes: David Freeman
- Mayella Ewell: Jennifer E. Rose
- Bob Ewell: Tom Pentecost
- Dill: Sean McCoy
- Atticus Finch: Herb Tax
- Walter Cunningham: Frank Beachem
- Town Woman: Katherine Blondin
- Farmer: August Kruesi
- Mr. Gilmer: Bill Bacon
- Tom Robinson: Jeffrey T. Morris
- Helen Robinson: Louise Jennifer Robinson
- Nathan Radley/Arthur Radley (Boo): Tom Ziemba
- Director: Zina T. Bleck
- Assistant Director: Harry Kantrovic
- Stage Manager: Cana Wade
- Stage Combat: Harry Kantrovic, Tom Pentecost
- Set Design/Master Builder: Gavin Tameris
- Scene Painter: Jeanne Trimble
- Props Acquisition: Adrienne Showker
- Lighting Design: Timothy M. Chew
- Lighting Operation: Spike Souders
- Spotlight Operation: Janet Devine Smith
- Sound Design: Herb Tax
- Sound Operation: David Kurtzberg
- Costumes: Susy Moorstein, Peggy Jones
- Photography: Zina T. Bleck
- Publicity: Don Wilson
- Poster/Cover Art/Program: Herb Tax
- Voice Overs: Harry Cantrovic, August Kruesi, Josh McKee, Max McKee, Tom Pentecost
This article can be linked to as: http://washingtondc.showbizradio.com/goto/810.
Laura & Mike Clark started ShowBizRadio in August 2005 because they love live theater. They each have both performed in and worked behind the scenes in DC area productions, as well as earned a Career Studies Certificate in Theater from Northern Virginia Community College. Mike & Laura are each members of the American Theatre Critics Association, and Mike is a member of the Online News Association.