An American classic comes alive

Mainstage presents To Kill A Mockingbird

Harper Lee’s To Kill A Mockingbird soared to the top of the bestseller’s list upon its 1960 release with its groundbreaking portrayal of racial injustice. Its messages of tolerance, justice, dignity, and courage continue to remain important today. Mainstage Center for the Arts will bring a beautiful stage adaption of this timeless tale to life as it presents To Kill A Mockingbird, February 3 -11.

To Kill A Mockingbird transports audiences to the sleepy Alabama town of Maycomb where depression-era siblings, Jem (Aidan Meagher, 13, of Audubon) and Scout (Emily Moore, 11, of Sewell), along with their friend, Dill (Michael Schaffner, 11, of Mantua) witness a tense tug-of-war between justice and racism in their community. It’s told from the perspective of eight-year-old Scout, whose widowed father, Atticus (Tim Rinehart of Cherry Hill), defends Tom Robinson (Steven Bryan of Queen Village, Philadelphia), a black man framed for a crime he didn’t commit. Bob Ewell (Tom Guzzi of Pittman) claims that Robinson attacked his daughter, Mayella (Samantha Morrone of South Philadelphia). Guzzi and Maronne are double cast, also portraying sheriff Heck Tate and Miss Maudie Atkinson, respectively.

Scout and Jem endure hostility from friends and discover hypocrisy and outrageous attitudes of adults in this coming of age story.

This compelling production is directed by Chris Melohn, 2010 Perry Award winner for Outstanding Direction of a play. His most recent work with Mainstage Center for the Arts was as co-director of 13, The Musical, June 2011 with Kevin Hurley. The pair is teamed up again in To Kill A Mockingbird with Hurley as assistant director and stage manager.

“When working with a stage adaptation of a powerful novel like To Kill A Mockingbird, I always go back to the original text to see if I can incorporate anything left out from the book to give the show more depth,” said Melohn.

“This is a story with a lot of depth,” continued Melohn. “I believe its messages are still relevant. For instance, I teach in a charter school that’s 98 percent African American. It makes me wonder how much progress we’ve actually made. And, the show educates about much more than racial discrimination. It’s all about connections between people, being nice to others no matter their social status, education, or differences from you. Those are the lessons Atticus was trying to instill in his children. He really was a man ahead of his time, and modeled after Lee’s own father.”

The young actors in To Kill A Mockingbird are glad to have the opportunity to portray Atticus’ children.

“I’m very excited to play Scout. Acting, singing and dancing are the things I like to do best,” said Moore, who has participated in Mainstage Center for the Arts’ Summer Stage program for three years. “Since the book is often read by older students, I had never heard of it. But, it’s really important and I’m happy to have this opportunity. Our director helps me out a lot. He explains things to me so I get it right.”

Meagher, whose credits include playing Ben in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat and Lumiere in Beauty and the Beast, also speaks highly of Melohn, “He’s very encouraging and supportive. I feel comfortable working with him because I worked with him in the past. I believe acting is a great way to express yourself and it’s fun getting to know the other cast members. This show is unlike the musicals I’ve been in because there’s a constant dialogue. I like the change.”

Cast members from "To Kill A Mockingbird"

Yes, the issues brought to life in To Kill A Mockingbird are not resolved in song, yet this adaption includes light-hearted moments, entertains and provokes thought.

The cast also includes Toni Richards of Camden who plays Calpurnia, the Finch family’s cook, and Dan Hickey of Marlton, who portrays their neighbor, Mr. Cunningham.

Mainstage Center for the Arts’ To Kill a Mockingbird, sponsored by Comegno Law Group P.C., runs February 3,4, 10, 11; 8 p.m. in the newly-renovated fully accessible Dennis Flyer Theatre, Lincoln Hall, Camden County College. Ticket prices are $18/$21 for adults and $15 for senior citizens and students under 12. To order tickets, visit www.mainstage.org, or call (856) 227-3091. In addition, Mainstage is holding three matinee performances for schools and groups with discounted pricing. For more information about school performances, please call (609) 405-0306.

Mainstage Center for the Arts, located at Camden County College in Blackwood, NJ is committed to make the arts experience enjoyable for all its patrons. In an effort to make the shows, concerts, events, workshops, classes, and offices accessible to as many as possible, Mainstage offers many services for patrons requiring assistance. For anyone in need of assistance, please notify the office at (856) 227-3091 at the time of purchasing tickets, or at least five days prior to the event you are attending.

[box] Mainstage Center for the Arts, the parent program for Summer Stage, is a 501 © (3) non-profit organization committed to providing a creative, vibrant, and nurturing environment for youth and adults. This program is made possible in part by funds from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts/Department of State, a Partner Agency of the National Endowment for the Arts and by funds from the National Endowment for the Arts. This program is also made possible in part by funds from the New Jersey Cultural Trust.[/box]

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