BWW Reviews: TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD Opens at the White Theatre in Overland Park
The Harper Lee classic, dramatized by Christopher Sergel, To Kill a Mockingbird opened Saturday April 5 at the White Theatre in Overland Park, Kan. Darren Sextro directs the White Theatre production that runs through April 13. Mary Badham, the actor who starred as Scout in the 1962 film starring Gregory Peck, was on hand opening weekend and conducted a talk back on Saturday night.
The set design by Jayson Chandley consisted of ramps, stairs, an old tree, photographs, and finally a mock courtroom. The set seemed counter-productive as the audience could see several of the characters blatantly cautious as they climbed the steps.
To Kill a Mockingbird seems to be a more ambitious project than the White Theatre could comfortably handle. With the exception of performances of five cast members, the production had the same effect as listening to the book on an audio disk. The majority of the characters showed little energy and sounded as if they were reading from a page of the script.
Kate Haugan, who plays Jean Louise Finch, is one of the exceptions. As the narrator, her part called for her to stand and talk, yet she was very good and showed more energy than the majority of the supporting cast. The emphasis in her voice was very good and helped to direct the play to its conclusion. She has previously appeared with the Fishtank Performance Studio, The Living Room Theatre, and Just Off Broadway Theatre among others.
Greg Butell as Atticus Finch gave a superb performance and was the most animated character on the stage. His facial expressions and body language greatly enhanced his dialogue. He has previously appeared at the White Theatre in Gypsy, The Producers, and Visiting Mr. Green. Other Kansas City appearances include the Barn Players, Metropolitan Ensemble Theatre, and the Kansas City Repertory Theatre.
Three young actors appear in the production: Whittaker Hoar as Jem, Cam Burns as Dill, and Margaret Veglahn as Scout. These young actors gave very good performances. Veglahn has appeared with the Kansas City Repertory Theatre and the Barn Players. Hoar has appeared with the Heart of America Shakespeare Festival, Metropolitan Ensemble Theatre, and Lyric Opera of Kansas City among others. Burns makes his White Theatre debut with this production. He has appeared with the Heartland Men's Chorus at the Folly Theatre, Kansas City Repertory Theatre, and the Gladestone Theatre in the Park among others.
To Kill a Mockingbird runs through April 13 at the White Theatre. Purchase tickets at the White Theatre website.