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BWW Review: Oklahoma City University Theatre Joins Forces with Oklahoma Children's Theatre in TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD

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BWW Review: Oklahoma City University Theatre Joins Forces with Oklahoma Children's Theatre in TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRDJess here. Theatre OCU and Oklahoma Children's Theatre are premiering their first mainstage production of the year, and the story couldn't be more significant.

Harper Lee's "To Kill a Mockingbird," a new play by Aaron Sorkin, is a moving and important piece of work, especially in the climate of today's current political turmoil.

"To Kill a Mockingbird" is set in Maycomb County, Alabama in 1934. This American literature classic follows the trial of Tom Robinson, a black man accused of raping a white woman, and is predicated on the racial tension that plagued the mid 20th Century.

When Atticus Finch, patriarch of the Finch family, is appointed as Robinson's attorney in the case, he and his children, Scout and Jem, face the repercussions of being labeled as "race traitors," and are scrutinized as they stand up for what is benevolent, as opposed to turning a blind eye and remaining passive in the face of prejudice and immorality.

The Director, Elin Bhaird, also serves as the Artistic Director of Oklahoma Children's Theatre. Bhaird did a great job in not only blocking this work, but also made the show relevant and applicable in its storytelling. The actors onstage appeared educated and sensitive to the topics they were addressing, and the directorial expertise of Bhaird definitely added to the effectiveness of the tale. The blocking was creative, and helped to elaborate the story which called for dynamic movement.

Megan Berning (Scout Finch) and Andrew Lewis (Jem Finch) played a compelling duo throughout the show. The pair played not only convincing siblings, but additionally had great chemistry onstage that kept the plot entertaining. The two played perfectly off the delightful Trevor Rau (Dill), which definitely added to the greatness of their performances. Serving as the three narrators of the piece is no easy feat, and the trio of actors clearly put the work into preparing their art.

Eric Starkey (Atticus Finch) brought a complexity to his character that I found enlightening and refreshing. The original story presents Atticus as a "perfect man" who can do no wrong, yet the new story reveals Atticus as a man struggling with his own morals. Stark delivered exactly what the revised story called for, and his connection with the text and fellow actors made me see Atticus in a different light.

Devon Frost (Tom Robinson) gave a truly compelling performance, with his portrayal of Tom giving the show the backbone of relevance it needed. The honesty and intricacy of his role was spot on, and I feel he represented his character perfectly.

One of my favorite performances of the evening was given by Sara Byerly (Mayella Ewell). Her portrayal as both a victim and a villain was convincing, and her major monologue had an arch that was captivating to experience.

Evan Clear (Calpurnia) was also a favorite of mine. She brought an incredibly grounded strength to her character, and I looked forward to every time she would come onstage. The wisdom and hard-hitting truth she put into her performance bridged the gap necessary to allow the story's relevance to push from the past, to the present day.

The set and technical design of the piece served the story very well. By creating a set that could be used for all locations in the plot, the minimal set changes were quick and non-distracting. Jason Foreman (Scenic Designer) created an effective and functional set, which allowed the work of Rick Reeves (Digital Media Design) to shine through, thereby creating a more specific ambiance as necessary.

Overall, this show was a fantastic display of what OCU Theatre is capable of. The cast delivered a strong, impactful performance, and made the connections to current day politics very clear. OCU Theatre knows that art is meant to spark change, and this show is effective in creating dialogue regarding the current disheveled state of race relations in our country.

I am proud of my colleagues for putting their heart and soul into such an important tale, and I know their story will continue to inspire audiences throughout the entirety of its run.

CAST

Scout : Megan Berning

Jem : Andrew Lewis

Dill : Trevor Rau

Bailiff : Ryley "RJ" Flud

Gilmer : Tyler Jones

Sheriff Tate : Cole Duffy

Judge Taylor : Terry Veal

Atticus : Eric Starkey

Mr. Cunningham : Luke Barrett

Tom : Devon Frost

Miss Stephanie : Adrianna DelPercio

Bob Ewell : Mike Waugh

Calpurnia : Evan Clear

Mayella Ewell : Sara Byerly

Mrs. Dubose : Elizabeth Ann Hicks

Mob Member #1 : Grant Wilson

Mob Member #2 : Logan Wilkinson

Mob Member #3 : Bret Williams

Link Deas : Dustin Dale Barlow

Dill's Mother : Kaiden Lynn Maines

Dr. Reynolds : Oliver Kennedy

Boo Radley : Gareth Forsberg

DESIGN & PRODUCTION TEAM

Director : Elin Bhaird

Assistant Director : Joe Bonfiglio

Fight Director : Luke Eddy

Fight Captain : Gareth Forsberg

Scenic Designer : Jason Foreman

Costume Designer : Emma Hendren

Lighting Designer : Landry Strickland

Sound Designer : Jacob Henry

Properties Master : Logan Jacisin

Digital Media Design : Rick Reeves

Stage Manager : Audrey Mantia

Technical Director : Sydney Bryan

Assistant Lighting Designer : Taylor Schult

Assistant Properties Master : Katelyn Walp

Assistant Stage Manager : Keegan Johnston, Lauren Madsen

Production Electrician : Meghan Settle

Costume Technicians: Gabriel Bastidas, Anna Cantu, Turner Carson, Meredith England, Maya Ferrer-Toolsie, Emma Hendren, Sydnee Lasseigne, Hannah Mansfield, AJ Milunas, Reagan Williams, Erin Wilson

Wardrobe Supervisor : Anna Cantu

Wardrobe Crew : Victoria Blackburn, Tessa Neeno, Macy Rex, Reid Saari

Shop Carpenters, Props, and Painters : Cale Coffia, Sydney Hagen Logan Jacisin, Tessa Neeno, Audrey Mantia, Emorie Mansur, Eliana Perez, Claire Police, Sarah Muscarella, Hunter Norris, Carlee Robertson, Dilynn Stoval, Kaye Swindell, Clara Wiebe, Andy Wilding, Courtney Quinn

Shop Electricians : Megan Fouts, Meghan Settle, Landry Strickland, Kaye Swindell, Cadence Tyson, Andy Wilding

Light Board Operator : Ethan Drezner

Sound Board Operator : Mark Munoz

Projections Operator : Harley Harris

Run Crew : Julian Ibarra, Michael Jobe, Vance Klassen

Props Crew : Tony Kesserwani, Maddie Powell

Official Photographer : Brian Cardinale-Powell



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