Sunday, November 1, 2015

theatre review - TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD - Zao Theatre - October 30, 2015

Tom Koelbel
Photo by Sharyn Sheffer

Click here for more information on this production that runs through November 14th.

 "Harper Lee's classic 1960 novel "To Kill a Mockingbird" depicts a quintessential slice of small-town America. Set during the Great Depression and dealing with racial prejudice, the novel was turned into an Academy Award winning film in 1962, and Zao Theatre is presenting a moving, well-acted production of Christopher Sergel's 1990 theatrical adaptation of Lee's beloved book....This adaptation features many of the memorable moments from the book and the film, though some of the things easy to portray on screen aren't quite able to be captured on stage....While the end result is equivalent to the novel, or film, brought to life on stage, with very little added dramatic elements, it still works and the life lessons that Scout and her brother Jem learn from the aftermath of the trial resonate today.  Director Mickey Bryce has assembled a strong cast, which includes Tom Koelbel as Atticus and a talented trio of young performers...Trustworthy, likeable, truthful, and level headed are just a few of the many positive traits of Atticus and Koelbel does a fine job of displaying them and instilling the role with a sense of assuredness and simple honesty. While it isn't an overly showy part it does include several well-written lines, including Atticus' stirring and powerful closing remarks in the trial, which Koelbel delivers perfectly. As the grown-up Scout, Carol Bennett does a nice job of instilling her narrative segments with emotion and a fine sense of recollection. And, while Bryce has cast teenagers in what were originally slightly younger characters in the book and film, it doesn't detract from the outcome, with Jacqueline Hall as the younger Scout simply lovely in her ability to give Scout a youthful sense of questioning with wide, expressive eyes and Nick Williams and LJ Deacon realistic as the rambunctious Jem and Dill. Abraham Ntonya is superb as the soft-spoken and always polite Tom Robinson, the man on trial. His testimony is simply heartbreaking. ...Like Lee's novel, the theatrical adaptation of To Kill a Mockingbird is moving and full of hope. While the play may not add anything new to the novel or film, that's understandable, as Lee's book is so powerful that nothing additional is required to make it resonate and be relevant. Zao's production features nice creative designs, clear direction and a wealth of strong performances. The end result is a powerful testament to the timeliness of Harper Lee and the iconic characters she created."  -Gil Benbrook, Talkin' Broadway (click here to read the complete review)

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