Fearless Productions, LLC (Rahway, NJ) presents a dramatization of Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird. This timeless tale of the innocence of childhood and the shock of growing up will run for nine performances from September 19 through October 5 at the UCPAC Hamilton Stage in Rahway, NJ. It is being directed by Steve Lemenille with Jessica Foerst, as Associate Producer. The drama provides a poignant look at justice and the human spirit, as told through the eyes of a young girl learning the mysteries and realities of adulthood.
To Kill a Mockingbird is the only novel by Harper Lee. Born in 1926 in Alabama, Lee's childhood bears many similarities to Scout, the central character of Mockingbird, although it is not autobiographical. Lee drew on her own experience as a young girl in the South to create a rich atmosphere filled with the distinct voices of the people in the town of Maycomb. An intensely private and reserved woman, who rarely makes public appearances, Lee once stated "The novel is a love story pure and simple. My love of the South, a father's love for his children and the love they give in return."
She first approached a publisher in 1957 with a series of short stories, and he recommended that she re-work the manuscript into a novel. The novel was published in 1960. It quickly garnered acclaim, winning the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1961, making Lee the first woman to win the award since 1942. The story was turned into a movie in 1962, starring Gregory Peck as Atticus Finch and winning numerous awards of its own. Dramatized for the stage by Christopher Sergel in 1970, the play is continuously produced throughout the county, including an annual production in Lee's hometown of Monroeville, Alabama. The dramatization retained more of the original novel's prose than the movie, which provide rich descriptive elements necessary for the theatrical requirements of live production.
Told through the perspective of eight-year old Scout, To Kill a Mockingbird is set in a small Southern town during the Depression. She and her brother Jem are being raised by their widower father Atticus and by a strong-minded housekeeper Calpurnia. Wide-eyed Scout is fascinated with the people of her small town, but from the start, there's a rumble of thunder just under the calm surface of the life here. The black people of the community have a special feeling for Scout's father and she doesn't know why. A few of her white friends are inexplicably hostile and Scout doesn't understand this either. Atticus, a lawyer, explains that he's defending a young Negro wrongfully accused of a grave crime. Since this is causing such an upset, Scout wants to know why he's doing it. "Because if I didn't," her father replies, "I couldn't hold my head up."
Atticus's reply to Scout underscores the central theme of the play: the ability to put oneself in another's shoes in an effort to recognize truth. "Ultimately it's all a matter of courage," states director Kathryn Long. "The notion of finding the balance between following what you think is right and seeing the world from someone else's perspective. Scout realizes that Atticus seeks the balance between these two notions and that he expects her, and indeed the entire community, to respect both. This is a powerful message for any time. The key to adulthood is moving from the egotism of childhood to finding the common ground that allows us to live in a society."
In the cast are Vikki Missulli (from Gillette, NJ) as adult Scout, Lauren Sudol (from Ridgewood, NJ) and Maddie Barkocy (from Rockaway, NJ) sharing the roles of young Scout, Jacob Lesser (from Gillette, NJ) as Jem, Scout's brother, Bram Akcay (from Bloomfield, NJ) as Atticus Finch, Jacob Canderozzi (from Jackson, NJ) as Dill, Scout and Jem's friend, Jenne Carey (from Princeton, NJ) as Calpurnia, Russell Ortiz (from Iselin, NJ) as Sheriff Tate, Jim Broderick (from Iselin, NJ) as Judge Taylor, Rod Belle (from Linden, NJ) as Rev. Sykes, Corinne Chandler (from Woodbridge, NJ) as Mayella Ewell, Howard Smith (from Oceanport, NJ) as Bob Ewell, Alberta Thompson (from Staten Island, NY) as Maudie Atkinson, Beatriz Esteban-Messina (from Union City, NJ) as Stephanie Crawford, Jean Kuras (from Glenridge, NJ) as Mrs. DuBose, Bob Goodwin (from Highland Park, NJ) as prosecutor Horace Gilmer, LaMar Giles (from Linden, NJ) as Tom Robinson, Michelle Thomas-Hanson (from Hackensack, NJ) as Helen Robinson, Mark Douches (from Scotch Plains, NJ) as William Cunningham, Mike Burdick (from Linden, NJ) as Nathan Radley and Sue Roberts (from Edison, NJ) as courtroom spectator.
Steve Lemenille (from Clark, NJ), director of To Kill A Mockingbird, as well as, Associate Producer Jessica Foerst (from Westfield, NJ) also serve on the Advisory Board of Fearless Productions, LLC. Mr. Lemenille and Ms. Foerst serve on the Board of Directors of Westfield Community Players as President and Director of Playbill, respectively.
Brian Remo is the set designer for To Kill A Mockingbird. Mr. Remo is founder and Artistic Director of Fearless Productions, LLC. Mr. Remo also serves as Secretary of Westfield Community Players. Costuming is being done by Kristin Barber, who serves as General Manager of Fearless Productions, LLC. and Shiva Kiani, a member of Fearless Productions. Serving as Stage Manager and Assistant Stage Manager are Kristine Munchkin and Brad Flaker.
Both Mr. Lemenille and Mr. Remo are NJACT Perry Award nominees for Outstanding Directors. Ms. Foerst was a NJACT Perry Award nominee for Outstanding Lighting.
To Kill A Mockingbird will be presented on September 19, 20, 26, 27, October 3, 4 2014 at 8:00 PM; September 21, 28, October 5 at 2:00 PM. Tickets are $25.00. To order tickets on-line: www.ucpac.org or call 732.499.8226
FEARLESS PRODUCTIONS... strives to create entertaining theatrical productions that walk on the very edge of the edge, leap enthusiastically with our hearts on our sleeves, and dare to be daring. We recognize that the responsibility of true art is to firmly grasp the attention of our audience for as long as we are asking for it. We accept this challenge with the courage that only comes with doing exactly what we feel we were born to do... Simply put... Our NAME is our MISSION STATEMENT...
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