Geva to Continue 43rd Season with TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD
Geva Theatre Center presents Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird as part of the 2015-2016 ESL Wilson Stage Series. To Kill a Mockingbird is adapted by Christopher Sergel and directed by Mark Cuddy, with original music by Gregg Coffin. The production begins previews on February 16, opens on February 20 and runs in the Elaine P. Wilson Stage until March 20.
Set in a small Alabama town during the Great Depression, Harper Lee's Pulitzer Prize-winning American masterpiece follows the journey of Jem and Scout Finch, whose father has been appointed to defend a black man framed for a crime he didn't commit. As the trial progresses, the children witness racial injustice envelop their community, while their father seeks the truth with quiet integrity, courage and compassion.
Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird was published in 1960. The plot and characters are loosely based on Lee's own observations of her family and neighbors, as well as an event that occurred near her hometown when she was 10 years old. The book was an immediate success, won the Pulitzer Prize, and has become a classic of American literature. In a 1991 survey by the Library of Congress, To Kill a Mockingbird came second only to the Bible as the book that made a difference in readers' lives. A mysterious figure, Lee has not granted an interview since 1964 and Mockingbird was her only published novel until July 2015 with the publication of Go Set a Watchman. Go Set a Watchman, which hit the top of the bestseller lists, was written in 1957 and was actually the first draft of the novel that would becomeTo Kill a Mockingbird.
The cast of Geva's production of To Kill a Mockingbird is a blend of Geva favorites, young actors from local colleges and area children. Skip Greer (Geva productions of Clybourne Park, You Can't Take It With You, Superior Donuts, The Music Man and Evie's Waltz, among others) is Atticus Finch, one of the most iconic characters in American literature and Brigitt Markusfeld (Geva productions of Stranded on Earth, You Can't Take It With You, Over the Tavern, A Christmas Story and The Weir), as the adult "Scout," Jean Louise, looks back on her childhood and leads the audience through the story. Other returning Geva favorites include Nora Cole (Geva productions of Katherine's Colored Lieutenant, Voices of the Spirits in My Soul, You Can't Take It With You and Fences) as Calpurnia; Munson Hicks (Geva productions of A Midsummer Night's Dream, My Fair Lady, 1776, Twelve Angry Men) as Sheriff Heck Tate; Sean Patrick Reilly (Geva productions ofGood People, Doubt and American Buffalo) as Boo Radley; Robert Rutland (Geva productions of The Odd Couple, You Can't Take It With You, A Midsummer Night's Dream, Amadeus and Inherit the Wind) as Walter Cunningham/Judge Taylor; Remi Sandri (Geva productions ofA Christmas Carol, Wait Until Dark, The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs, My Fair Lady and Camelot) as Bob Ewell and David Shakes(Geva productions of Two Trains Running, Ma Rainey's Black Bottom and Member of the Wedding) as Reverend Sykes. Making their Geva debuts are Ellen Horst (National tour and West End production of Hal Prince's Show Boat) as Mrs. Dubose, and young actors Sallie Koenigas Mayella Ewell and Lorenzo Shawn Parnell as Tom Robinson.
Children play an important role To Kill a Mockingbird as the story is told through their eyes. The role of the young Jean Louise "Scout" Finch will be played by Erin Mueller and Alden Duserick. Both of these young ladies have appeared on the Wilson Stage in A Christmas Carol. Harry Franklin and Nicholas Kinney making their Geva debuts share the role of Jem Finch. Andrew Beel, who makes his Geva debut and Sawyer Duserick, who has appeared on the Wilson Stage in A Christmas Carol and The Music Man, share the role of Dill Harris.
To Kill a Mockingbird is directed by Mark Cuddy. The design team includes John Haldoupis (scenic and costume design), Paul Hackenmueller (lighting design), Dan Roach (sound design) and Bekah Carey (wig design). Featuring fight choreography by Adriano Gattoand dialect coaching by Kathleen Mulligan, To Kill a Mockingbird features an original score by Gregg Coffin (Geva productions of A Christmas Carol, Five Course Love and Convenience).
Mounting a production such as involves the cooperation of the entire community and for this production of To Kill a Mockingbird Geva has partnered with a number of local educational and non-profit organizations. Geva has a long-standing relationship with School of the Arts (SOTA) and this season has partnered with them for The Stage Door Project: To Kill a Mockingbird. Throughout the entire rehearsal process, students from SOTA will shadow their professional counterparts. This project culminates in a unique and rare opportunity. After rehearsing the show independently at their school, the students from SOTA will perform their own version of To Kill a Mockingbird in the Wilson Stage on the set of Geva's production for a special one-night performance on Tuesday, March 15.
The George Eastman Museum holds in its collection a print of the 1962 film version of To Kill a Mockingbird starring Gregory Peck - part of Martin Scorsese's own collection held at the museum. The Museum will be screening this Oscar-winning film on Friday, February 12 at 8pm in the Dryden Theatre. Writers and Books will be hosting a class, "Re-imagining To Kill a Mockingbird" on March 23 to consider the "what-ifs" in Harper Lee's novel. These are opportunities for the public to get closer to the story both before the production opens and after the show closes at Geva.
The 2015-2016 Wilson Stage Series is sponsored by ESL Federal Credit Union. To Kill a Mockingbird is produced with support from Lead Co-Producer The Rochester Division of Oppenheimer Funds, Inc; Co-Producer Harter Secrest & Emery, LLP; Associate Producer SUNY Brockport and Media Sponsors Fox Rochester and WDKX. Canandaigua National Bank and Trust is the Sponsor of the P.L.A.Y. Student Matinees and Frontier Communications of Rochester is the sponsor for the March 4 performance of To Kill a Mockingbird.