Poteet Theatre presents “To Kill a Mockingbird” the Christopher Sergel adaptation of Harper Lee’s beloved novel of the same name. “To Kill a Mockingbird” details the trial of Tom Robinson, a young black laborer in a small southern town. He has been accused of the rape of a young white woman, and the lawyer chosen to represent him is Atticus Finch. The story is a narration by Scout, the young daughter of Atticus Finch who, along with brother Jem and friend Dill learns first life’s harsh lessons of jealousy, racism and small minded gossips tempered by the exception that Atticus Finch himself represents.
In Sergel’s adaptation the narration is handled by Maudie, a sympathetic character who voices for the child Scout in the book. While the book is beloved by many, the play is a popular and beloved choice for any production company.
Poteet uses Director Michael Payne, whose love of the story is evident in his direction. He begins by creating an outstanding and simple set that functions beautifully as the street of a small Southern town, and then as the courthouse itself for the trial scene.
Many young folks are in the cast lead by Nolia Sweatt as the irrepressible Scout Finch. Aaron Stewart is brother Jem Finch, and these two young actors play their crucial parts quite well. A third child, visiting an aunt is a boy called Dill. Sam Brown as Dill is excellent and has a great future as an actor.
Other notable performances are given by Jean-Marie Otto as Maudie Atkinson, Dana Palmer as Stephanie Crawford and Norma Goff as Calpurnia. The three female characters represent different levels of society who know each other well. David Patterson as Heck Tate, Brian Scott as Tom Robinson, Julie Prock as Mrs. DuBose, Joe Moore as Judge Taylor, T. J. Brown as Bob Ewell, Haley Schafer as Mayella Ewell and Stephen Dillard-Carroll as Reverend Sykes make this production quite memorable.
The important role of Atticus Finch is held by Patrick Melrick. Melrick brings to the role all that a director could ask for in experience, vocal quality and demeanor. However, his performance is completely wooden as if he is completely unaffected by the events. This is also the first live play Melrick has appeared in after a period of 20 years. Perhaps, as he settles into the role, he will allow his emotions to surface enough to portray that calm yet torn father unwilling to compromise his convictions.
. Once Melrick loosens up, “To Kill a Mockingbird” may be well worth seeing, so the last weekend may be the best weekend to reserve tickets for that reason. The rest of the cast is quite good, the set is amazing and, even wooden, and Melrick’s vocal resonance creates good possibilities.
“To Kill a Mockingbird” runs through September 30, 2012 at the Poteet Theatre at St. Luke’s United Methodist Church at 222 N.W. 15th Street in Oklahoma City. For ticket information visit www.poteettheatre.com or call 405-609-1023