Theatre Review: To Kill a Mockingbird

"To Kill a Mockingbird" at Bay Street.
"To Kill a Mockingbird" at Bay Street. Photo credit: Jerry Lamonica

Once again, Bay Street Theatre’s LITERATURE LIVE! presents a first-class production with their latest performance of To Kill A Mockingbird, now running through November 26. Open to the public, but uniquely designed for students in conjunction with their curriculum-based literature to educate them on the classics through live theatre, I honestly can’t think of a better way to learn.

Christopher Sergel’s theatrical adaptation of To Kill a Mockingbird is based on the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel by Harper Lee, which was also made into the legendary film starring Gregory Peck in 1962, in which he won both a Golden Globe and an Oscar for his performance.

The play is set in rural Alabama in the early 1930s during the Great Depression and focuses on sensitive issues like racism and the ways of the ‘old South’. [expand]

Director Murphy Davis successfully brings his audience back in time to a place where racism takes center stage when a black man is accused of raping a white young woman, and Atticus, played by Ken Forman, a wise local attorney and widower with two small children, is appointed to defend him. Atticus’ children, precocious Scout, played by Lily Spellman, and her older brother Jem, played by Myles Stokowski, along with their friend, Dill, by Hudson Galardi-Troy, are our adorable and talented narrators who see things through innocent and impartial eyes; always questioning the adults – not understanding their blatant stupidity and racial prejudices. In many instances it is a role reversal – children acting more like the adults and the adults acting like children.

The show’s success is also due to its fabulous ensemble cast, whose dedication and mere talent bring perfection to their characters, right down to their authentic Southern dialects. Standout performances are by the creepy Bob Ewell, played by Joe Pallister, and his daughter, Mayella (Joanna Howard), whose transition in the courtroom causes quite a stir, as well as the moving scenes with Boo Bradley, played by Keith Francis.

Kudos to set designer Gary Hygom, whose vision takes us immediately into the deep South with moss covered trees and hot, lazy days on white front porches – one of which easily conforms to the judge’s podium for the courtroom scenes. His realistic scenery along with the attention to lighting and costume design were all appreciated by the audience, further making this production a must see this fall.

To reserve tickets to weekend shows call the Bay Street Theatre box office at 631-725-9500, Wednesday-Saturday, from 11 a.m.-5 p.m., and for groups, call the Development Office at 725-0818.

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