This one soars
To Kill a Mockingbird
Sacramento Theatre Company opens its 65th season with a sentimental and powerful favorite: Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird. This theatrical adaptation of Lee’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel displays all of the unforgettable characters and moving moments that stood out in the 1962 movie classic.
We witness gentle Southern summer innocence slowly unravel into small-town racial ugliness, the quiet dignity of a righteous lawyer defending an innocent man, and a young girl’s tender love and admiration for her father. We visit the unforgettable characters of Atticus Finch, Scout, Jem, Dill, Boo Radley, Tom Robinson and Bob Ewell. But most of all, with the help of the grown-up Scout narrator (beautifully played by Carolyn Howarth), we get to bask in Lee’s lovely language as it winds through languid lazy days and delivers compelling courtroom speeches.
Director Philip Charles Sneed wisely keeps this a tight, contained story, which is what made Lee’s book so memorable. These are big ideas captured in small moments, all seen through the eyes of young tomboy Scout. She lives in 1935 Maycomb, Miss., with her widowed father, Atticus, and older brother, Jem. To Kill a Mockingbird is a coming-of-age story, both for Scout, who is waking up to life’s harsh realities, and the South, as it struggles through the Depression and rampant racism.
Sneed has gathered some of the cream of the local acting crop, showcasing actors from various neighboring venues, many of whom are debuting on STC’s stage. He also nurtures the young actors who realistically portray the story’s child characters with two rotating casts. On opening night, Paige Silvester gave us a sentimental Scout, with Jake Murphy as a touchingly funny Dill and Brennan Villados as the protective big brother Jem.
The strength of the story belongs to the quiet, dignified Atticus. Mark Standriff delivers an understated yet moving performance, capturing the loving father and courageous man.
There isn’t a misstep in the cast, which includes notable performances by Linda Goodrich as Calpurnia; Katie Rubin as the “wronged” woman, Mayella Ewell; Jamal Kelly as the condemned Tom Robinson; and George Schau as sentimental favorite Boo Radley.
The set sweetly glows in soft summer colors, its three front porches peppered with shadows and visited by secrets in this small Southern town.