Cincinnati Shakespeare Company Presents TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD, Opening 9/7
Cincinnati Shakespeare Company will present Harper Lee's classic American novel "To Kill a Mockingbird" adapted by Christopher Sergel. This production is directed by Cincinnati Shakespeare Company Artistic Associate Sara Clark and features Bruce Cromer, Darnell Pierre Benjamin and three young actors- Alyssa Mehnert, Jack Johnson & Noah Lentini. This production is generously sponsored by LPK. The ensemble is sponsored by Taft, Stettinius & Hollister LLP and the production design is sponsored by Matson Money.
In 1935, in the "tired old town" of Maycomb, Alabama, Scout (Alyssa Mehnert) and her brother Jem (Noah Lentini) learn courage and compassion as their father, Atticus Finch (Bruce Cromer), defends Tom Robinson (Darnell Pierre Benjamin), a young black man accused of a crime. Told with warmth and honesty, "To Kill a Mockingbird" asks us to take a look at our country's past and to examine how far we've come today.
This stage adaptation by Christopher Sergel, has become a popular favorite ever since it's 1991 premiere at the Paper Mill Playhouse in New Jersey. It has been performed in theatres all across the United States& beyond including Milwaukee Repertory Theater, Stratford Shakespeare Festival, Utah Shakespeare Festival, Steppenwolf Theater, Alabama Shakespeare Festival, Shakespeare Theater of New Jersey and others. Sergel actually began the adaptation in 1970 and took twenty years and countless revisions to perfect this adaptation of the novel. Harper Lee was always very cautious and careful about whom she would permit to use her story and Sergel has created the only approved stage adaptation. Today, there is an annual performance of "To Kill a Mockingbird" at the courthouse in Lee's hometown of Monroeville every spring, though Lee, who still lives there, does not attend. She remains "deeply private and defiantly silent" about her Pulitzer Prize winning novel.
"To Kill a Mockingbird" is directed by CSC Artistic Associate and seven year ensemble member Sara Clark. Clark directed last season's gorgeous production of "Love's Labour's Lost" as well as CSC's wildly popular touring production of "A Midsummer Night's Dream". "Nearly one million copies of 'To Kill a Mockingbird' continue to sell each year," says Clark "and the myriad of people who continue to classify it as their favorite book continues to grow. Each year it is read and loved by 13 year-old girls, by ladies with blue hair, by men with callused hands…not, I believe, because they all love a good piece of historical fiction, but because they connect with the simple yet profound truths it conveys. Just before Atticus Finch's famous final speech to the jury at Tom Robinson's trial, ten year-old Dill articulates his theory on why the reclusive Boo Radley stays shut up in his house: 'Maybe he found out the way people can go outa their way to despise each other.' In some ways, this country has come a long way from the atrocities of segregation and prejudice, but in other ways, we have not. Our laws may have changed, but in our hearts we still wrestle with suspicion and hate of anything and anyone different from us. What a wonderful thing it would be if in 300 years, prejudice has ceased to exist; people read 'To Kill a Mockingbird' and think to themselves, 'So what was the big deal?' But we're not there yet. The story still needs to be told."
Starring as Atticus Finch, Bruce Cromer, a frequent guest artist at CSC, was last seen on CSC's stage as Thomas More in "A Man for All Seasons". His previous credits at CSC include Benedick in "Much Ado About Nothing", Salieri in "Amadeus", Prospero in "The Tempest", and the title role in "King Lear". Last season he was Pete/Neil/John in "Speaking in Tongues" at Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park, in a one-man "Romeo & Juliet" with the Dayton Philharmonic Orchestra, Richard in "Time Stands Still" at Ensemble Theatre Cincinnati and Scrooge in "A Christmas Carol" (seventh year in the role at Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park).
Third year ensemble member, Darnell Pierre Benjamin will appear as Tom Robinson. He has been featured on CSC's stage as the King of Navarre in "Love's Labour's Lost", Valentine in "The Two Gentlemen of Verona" and Malcolm in "Macbeth". Some other credits in Cincinnati include Belize in "Angels in America" and Charles Wallace in "A Wrinkle in Time", both at Know Theatre, as well as a dancer with Pones, Inc. at the 2010 and 2011 Cincinnati Fringe Festivals.
CSC is pleased to welcome three young actors to our stage for this production. Playing the role of Jean Louise Finch (Scout), Alyssa Mehnert, is an eighth grader at the Montessori Academy of Cincinnati. This past year Alyssa played Benvolio in the Countryside YMCA's production of "The Suessification of Romeo & Juliet", and Hermia at the CSC Summer Camp performance of "A Midsummer Night's Dream". Jack Johnson, also joining CSC for the first time in the role of Charles Baker Harris (Dill), is in 8th grade at Indian Hill. He recently appeared as Pete Cratchit in the 2011 "A Christmas Carol" at Cincinnati Playhouse In The Park. And joining us again after appearing in last season's acclaimed production of "The Grapes of Wrath" is Noah Lentini, a 9th grader a Talawanda Middle School. Noah, playing the role of Jeremy Finch (Jem), has also been a part of "A Christmas Carol" and has also appeared onstage locally with CCM & CCM Prep, The Carnegie and Fairfield Footlighters as well as several film credits.