STUNNING IMAGERY DISPLAYED ON THEATRE GUILD STAGE
The book version by Harper Lee was published in 1960, won a Pulitzer Prize in 1961 and was made into an Oscar award-winning movie starring Gregory Peck in 1962. “To Kill a Mockingbird” has become a classic of American literature showcasing a child’s and community’s loss of innocence amid repressed civil rights and the conflicts of justice and intolerance; equality and bigotry.
The weighty topic concerning life in 1930s Jim Crow-era Alabama is brilliantly presented by Vero Beach Theatre Guild actors in a play of the same name. By the play’s conclusion on opening night, the audience was moved by the stunning imagery portrayed onstage as well as reflective about issues of prejudice which still plague America. This presentation is a tour de force on many levels and the Guild cast, director and technical crew have crafted a professional quality production based on Lee’s book and dramatized by Christopher Sergal.
With Guild veteran Don Croteau in the lead role of attorney Atticus Finch and youthful looking Guild newcomer Tori Hallsten as his scrappy tomboy daughter Jean Louis (Scout) Finch, the play harkens back to 1935 during the Great Depression in which Finch defends a black man, Tom Robinson (played by Samuel McDuffe) who has been falsely accused of raping a white woman.
As a lifelong theatre professional, director Jon Putzke is ideally suited to discern the many symbolic references Lee sprinkled throughout her story, and cleverly and subtly re-created them for live performance. This is a thinking-man’s piece and it has been very carefully wrought by Putzke and his actors. Putzke also designed the play’s set which conveys an authentic “feel” for a small Southern community.
Without a cast of able performers, even the best story will not be properly conveyed to audiences and the sizeable Guild cast, 22 in all, shine.
Thoughtfully, the show’s playbill notes that “To Kill a Mockingbird” contains racial pejoratives which are offensive yet nonetheless an integral part of the times in circa 1935 Alabama. Further noted is the fact that this offensive language in no way reflects the views or personal feelings of the Guild, its board of directors, the cast or anyone associated with the presentation of the production.
The show runs through March 25. For more information and to purchase tickets call the box office at 772-562-8300 Mondays through Fridays between the hours of 10 am to 2 pm or visit online at www.verobeachtheatreguild.com.
Barbara Yoresh attended Boston University and has written countless feature stories, previews and reviews in the arts and entertainment field for The Press Journal and the Vero Beach Newsweekly.