TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD Flies to Long Island This Fall
Theater 294 and the Long Island Repertory Co. are presenting an acclaimed stage adaptation of Harper Lee's famous novel To Kill A Mockingbird Oct. 20 to Nov. 5.
The play, one of two adaptations of the classic novel by Christopher Sergel, captures the charm, warmth and tension of the original work and remains true to the original story.
Lee's novel won the Pulitzer Prize in 1960, two years later was made into a film, starring Gregory Peck and adaptations soon became a staple for stage around the nation and the world. Tickets are $20/ $15 srs. and students at Tix.
"It's one of the great American plays," Charles Calabrese, who portrays Atticus Finch and co- directs the show, said. "This version hasn't been done forever on Long Island."
The Long Island production comes as Lee's novel heads for Broadway in a new adaptation by Aaron Sorkin.
Sergel's version, being presented by the Long Island Rep, gives audiences a chance to see the characters, story and a small town come to life on stage before the tale heads for Broadway.
The production features Chloe Keil as Scout, Ari Speigel as Jem and Anthony Buonagurio as Dill. Charles Calabrese is Atticus Finch, John Wolf portrays Boo Radley and Adrienne Pellegrino plays Miss Maudie.
The production with a cast of more than a dozen performers is co-directed by Calabrese, Pellegrino and Laura Williams, who directs the children in the cast.
"This is popular, because it's timeless," Calabrese said. "It takes place in 1935, but all of these characters could have grown up in your neighborhood. Everybody knows all of these characters, the kid next door; an honest, well-respected man; an ignorant racist. Everybody has met all these characters. Here they are in one small town."
The story was inspired by Lee's own childhood, life and hometown in Alabama, where her father was an attorney.
"We see bigotry and injustice at its ugliest. We see the soft side of racism. And heroes arise from unlikely places, facing a moral crisis and making the right moral decisions," Calabrese said. "We can be proud of some of these characters and despise and be embarrassed by others."
Sergel wrote two versions with different narrators. But Calabrese sees this one as more powerful, in part because it's told through the eyes of someone from the town.
"In one of them, an older Scout is the narrator," Calabrese said. "In this one, one of the townspeople is the narrator. This version stays closer to the novel. The characters are closer to the characters in the novel. It brings out the story, the tension and the personality of the characters better than any other adaptations."
A production of Sergel's other version of the novel was presented in Sag Harbor a few years ago. But Calabrese said this adaptation hasn't been licensed for a production on Long Island in over a decade.
"It kind of creates a town. There are multiple townspeople, a sheriff, a judge," he said. "The trial is a big part of it. In the trial, we see all the aspects of racism, bigotry and courage."
While the show is for adults, it's also appropriate for children, who portray some of the key roles, Calabrese said.
"It's definitely an adult play, but this is a play that's good for kids, not for little kids," he said of the show, which he believes is appropriate for children 12 and up. "This play shows the ugly side of racism, moral triumph, justice."
Aaron Sorkin, famous for writing for screen and stage, is adapting the story for Broadway, but Calabrese believes this version by Sergel is at once true to the novel and a strong script.
"Hollywood has an irresistible urge to keep changing things," he said. "This is great for the stage."
While the Long Island Repertory production may be with a different script than the one being readied for Broadway, the motivations for presenting the shows may have something in common.
"I think they're probably bringing this play back for the same reasons we brought it back," Calabrese said. "It's been too long and it's highly relevant."
To Kill A Mockingbird, Theater 294, 294 Farmingdale Road (Route 109), East Farmingdale. Oct. 20 - Nov. 5. Harper Lee's classic novel about justice, heroism, racism and reconciliation in a small town comes to life on stage. Fri. and Sat. @ 7 p.m. except Sat. Oct. 28 @ 3 p.m. Sun. @ 3 p.m, $20/ $15 seniors and students at the door or through at www.brownpapertickets.com and www.tokillamockingbirdonlongisland.brownpapertickets.com. For more information, visit www.theater294.com or call 516-531-3525.