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Port Tobacco Players To Kill A Mockingbird

By • Sep 25th, 2012 • Category: Reviews
To Kill A Mockingbird
Port Tobacco Players
Port Tobacco Players Theatre, La Plata, MD
Through October 7th
2:30 with intermission
$17/$14 Seniors, Youth, Military (plus fees)
Reviewed September 22nd, 2012

To Kill a Mockingbird, dramatized by Christopher Sergel from the book by Harper Lee tells the story of life in rural Alabama in 1935 as seen through the eyes of a young tomboy named Scout. It’s a play about hope in an unhopeful world and about finding goodness in a town of people who see only bad. Kaitelyn Bauer plays the adult Jean Louise all grown up and able to look back on events that Summer of 1935 with more perspective.

As the narrator, Bauer was able to break that fourth wall convincingly to help the audience see what went on in the town, the courtroom, the homes as well as the neighbors’ homes. Bauer was sincere in her sharing of her thoughts and feelings. Ten year old tomboy Jean Louise, nicknamed Scout, was played by Madelyn Mudd. Mudd was a bundle of energy, standing still was not in her vocabulary as she, Dill (Cole Schubert) and older brother Jem (Jake Dodges) led active lives that summer.

While Scout, Dill and Jem hoped the summer would never end, their father Atticus, a town lawyer and supposed champion of the underdog, took life a little more in stride. Brian Donohue’s demeanor and meaningful actions revealed a man with a past he did not wish to reveal. He was easy-going and down to earth, and very likeable. Atticus held to his convictions with quiet strength. Most of the town respected Atticus. Most of the law-abiding folks that is.

To Kill a Mockingbird is also a great courtroom drama. Atticus is defending Tom Robinson, a black man, who is accused of raping a young white woman, Mayella Ewell. Robinson was played by Jeremy Hunter very simply. He was generally soft-spoken, making the audience feel sympathy for Robinson. Melissa Ball played Mayella so that you weren’t quite sure if you should feel sorry for her or not. Mayella’s father, Bob Ewell, played by Jeff Clark, showed the darker side of people. A very angry man, Clark was afraid of no one and hated everyone. The courtroom scenes had moments of levity, and a few “gotcha!” moments when the lawyers were questioning witnesses. The key scene though was Atticus’ closing argument. Standing at the edge of the stage, Donohue presented his case directly to the audience. It was a powerful scene.

The Port Tobacco Players are known for their wonderful set designs. Watching the courtroom literally unfold was amazing. The space was well-balanced and the set designers John Merritt and John Kirby created a feeling of old houses, some run down, others nicely maintained. The scene change from the home to the courtoom took a little bit of time, but the cast and crew all knew what to move, remove, or open up and all of a sudden you were in a courtroom with judge and jury all present. Some of Jean Louise’s narrations were in spotlight and Light Designer Leslie Wanko’s lighting created an intimate atmosphere as Bauer moved across the stage reliving her story.

To Kill a Mockingbird was a well-performed, insightful story about the good and evil in people.

Director’s Notes

Any young girl who was a tomboy (and many who weren’t) is familiar with this story. Seen through the eyes of Scout and her brother Jem, this is an American classic chock full of social overtones wherein any race, gender or age can find nuggets of wisdom.

I remember giving this book to my daughter Amanda as she was growing up (she absorbed books like a sponge) and wrote on the inside cover that “I wanted her to see the good in people before she had to deal with the bad.” Nothing profound, just a Dad not wanting his daughter to be dragged down by an apathetic outside world in which there are plenty of “bad things.” Critics would point out there is a plethora of “bad things” in the book. True enough. Yet we never feel there are no options or that we must succumb to the evil in the world.

As parents we provide our children plenty of cliches that are worthy of an eye roll. One of the worst is “Because that’s the way it is.” Usually that comes at the end of a longer discussion where the parent may no longer want to defend a position. Young people deserve truthful answers and I find nothing wrong with explaining an injustice regardless of the subject. Encouragement toward positive actions could be as powerful as the message. I would hope after viewing this play, all of you would think to quickly add “But it doesn’t have to be that way” to the foul clich├ęs that rolls so blithely off our lips and reeks of capitulation.

John W. Kirby, Director

Photo Gallery

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Photos provided by Port Tobacco Players

Cast

  • Jean Louise: Kaitlelyn Bauer
  • Scout Madelyn Mudd
  • Jem: Jake Dodges
  • Atticus: Brian Donohue
  • Calpurnia: Heidi Spencer
  • Dill: Cole Schubert
  • Bob Ewell: Jeff Clark
  • Mayella Ewell: Melissa Ball
  • Heck Tate: Robbie Jones
  • Mr. Gilmer: Mike Mortensen
  • Judge Taylor: Peter Piazza
  • Maudie Atkinson: Alison Dodges
  • Stephanie Crawford: Kim Moore Bessler
  • Mrs. Dubose: Sheila Draper
  • Mrs. Dubose Understudy: Joselle Gilpin
  • Walter Cunningham: Anthony Dieguez
  • Reverend Sykes: Walt Neal
  • Tom Robinson: Jeremy Hunter
  • Helen Robinson: Sabrina Curtis
  • Nathan/Boo Radley: Keith Linville
  • Townspeople: Hailey Dodges, Joselle Gilpin, Taylor Latimer, Greg Pruitt, Shubert

Production Staff

  • Producer: Amy Wathen Cooksey
  • Assistant Producer: Emily Garcia
  • Director: John Kirby
  • Aassistant Director: Heather Bauer
  • Stage Manager: R. Austin Gore
  • Stage Crew: Savannah Hamilton, Christine Schubert, Nikki Lusk, Diane Spurgeon and the Cast
  • Set Design: John Merritt and John Kirby
  • Scenic Painting: Ronna Johnson
  • Set Construction Lead: John Merritt
  • Set Construction Crew: Tom Schubert, John Kirby, Mike Merritt, Rich Gilpin, Randy Davis, Dorothy, Cory & Alec Hart, Casey & Colin O’Mealy, Debbie, Deana, Hannah & Rachel Gilley, Jack Vizzi, Faith Spencer, Rachel Lloyd & the Cast
  • Set Painting Lead: Tessa N. Silvestro
  • Set Painting Crew: Set Construction Crew and The Cast
  • Set Decoration: Kim Moore Bessler
  • Properties: P.J Pitonyak
  • Light Design: Leslie Wanko
  • Light Operator: Emily Wanko
  • Sound Design: Mike Mortenson
  • Sound Operator: Allison Claggett
  • Costume Design: Terri Fortney Beinert
  • Costume Crew: Heather Bauer, Kaitlelyn Bauer, Christine Schubert, Laurie Mudd, Amy Wathen Cooksey and The Cast
  • Make-Up and Hair Design: Heather Bauer
  • Make-Up and Hair Crew: Zenetta Broadnax and the Cast
  • Armorer: Steve Claggett
  • Fight Choreographer: Craig Hower
  • Dialect Coach: Christine Hirrell
  • House Manager: Laurie Mudd
  • Program: Amy Wathen Cooksey
  • Program Printing: Quality Printers, Waldorf
  • T-Shirts: Positive Graphics, White Plains

Disclaimer: Port Tobacco Players provided two complimentary media tickets to ShowBizRadio for this review.

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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.

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