Harper Lee’s beloved novel “To Kill a Mockingbird” plays well at The Pollard Theatre. Christopher Sergel’s dramatization uses Jean Louise Finch to narrate her childhood experiences as Scout, the irrepressible daughter of small town lawyer Atticus Finch. The action takes place during a controversial trial that has polarized the small southern town of Maycomb, Alabama during the depression.
As narrator, Jean Louse Finch is played by Gwendolyn Evans while her younger self is Alexandria Grable. These two look and play very naturally as each other conquering beautifully the hesitancy some directors may have in using this version of the play. Director W. Jerome Stevenson incorporates the characters with great sensitivity and Grable and Evans are excellent examples.
Atticus Finch is performed by James A. Hughes, a familiar face to Pollard audiences in an unfamiliar role. These three lead the rest of the cast through the story effortlessly. Exciting smaller roles are delightfully carried by David Fletcher-Hall as Bob Ewell and Emily Frances Brown as Mayella Ewell. Fletcher-Hall’s interpretation beautifully illustrates the jealousy that accompanies prejudice and ignorance. Brown reveals the cost of that ignorance and isolation as she demonstrates the damage her father has done to his family in her performance.
“To Kill a Mockingbird” has some great roles for women, and Stevenson cast great women in those roles. De’Vin Lewis as Calpurnia is lovely, Beverly Caviness as Maudie Atkinson with Cory King as Stephanie Crawford and Jennifer Rosson as Mrs. Dubose create the typical small town power base that women often hold with wit and sincerity.
Tom Robinson, defendant and victim of racial discrimination is beautifully played by Rory Littleton. The poignancy of his position is revealed in his demeanor as much as his delivery. Ben Bates as Reverend Sykes, ministering to the needs of the black community is wise as well as comforting. Lane Fields plays the small town southern Sheriff, Heck Tate, as a man who brings a high moral standard to his position. Clayton Blair as ‘Boo’ Radley is distinctive in his presentation.
Grable leads the other children in the production to great heights. Matt Maloy is brother Jem and his performance is sensitive and secure. Harry Simpson plays Dill, the young scamp visiting and longing for acceptance. Simpson has great timing, a skill not often revealed in such a young actor.
The ability to project is specifically appreciated in the performance of Harry Simpson as Dill and David Fletcher-Hall as Bob Ewell. The audience has a difficult time hearing the dialogue of the other actors due to a combination of dialect and speed as well as low audio. They will be better understood as they slow down for upcoming performances and hopefully their microphones will be tuned a notch higher. But good projection is always the best answer, and young Simpson particularly should be congratulated for his ability. Some viewers may quarrel with Stevenson’s interpretation as Hughes plays Atticus Finch with an air of regret and martyrdom that those who love this story will find uncomfortable or disappointing.
“To Kill a Mockingbird” presented by Jeff & Carol Hirzel plays at The Pollard Theatre in downtown Guthrie through March 16, 2013. The Pollard is located at 120 W. Harrison and the curtain comes up at 8:00pm with Sunday matinees at 2:00pm. Tickets can be purchased online at www.thepollard.org or call 405-282-2800
Set in a small Oklahoma town, “Crimes of Redemption” by Linda McDonald pits three adversarial characters against a system reflecting good old boy justice that is not only blind but subject to human greed, denial and self-importance. Sheriff Tommy Maynard, a flawed Vietnam veteran, is called to investigate the murder of the powerful Albert Raeder. The home of Mr. Raeder is located near the hovel of Willie Morris, an irritable and irritating reclusive elderly lady. The two have been known to butt heads often. Nevertheless they join forces to help Gayla Early, a young woman in trouble. Her life has been the typically difficult struggle that so many poverty-stricken outcasts encounter in today’s complicated world.
Author Linda McDonald is well known as an actress, director and playwright. “Crimes of Redemption,” expresses a decided flair for the dramatic in an unusual and interesting manner. This first novel reads like a classic ‘whodunit’ but it’s certainly not a question of who committed any crime. Instead this is a ‘whydunit’ in which the reader needs to figure out who the victim really is and whether or not the crime in question should be considered manslaughter, self-defense, justifiable homicide or even accidental death.
Is Gayla Early a victim or an opportunist? Is Sheriff Maynard a law enforcement officer or a man conflicted about his duty? Is Willie Morris a cranky old lady or a wise old owl? Can the three of them find places in a world so suspicious of eccentricity and shades of gray? “Crimes of Redemption” is full of adventure, suspense and drama. McDonald reflects the modern American love for the antihero and creates flawed but lovable characters as her readers chase through a book full of antagonists running in the wrong direction.
There are many moral questions raised in “Crimes of Redemption”, but these moral dilemmas are left for the reader to analyze and judge. McDonald raises questions about the system, and whether or not justice is too rigid as well as blind. “Crimes of Redemption” is a great opportunity for readers to reaffirm their own philosophies with a very enjoyable read. Questions are raised for the reader about our imperfect justice system, our failing educational system and our society driven by greed, self-interest, short term Band-Aids and long term denial. One questions whether justice should be blind—and does that mean that we should also be blind? McDonald’s writing is vivid, flowing and logical. Many suspense novels are hard to follow as the author attempts to trick and twist the reader’s impressions. McDonald’s style allows the reader to comfortably understand the action without sacrificing one moment of suspense or the dilemma the characters face.
Linda McDonald is a finalist for the Oklahoma Book of the Year Award in the fiction category. There are seven finalists for the award and McDonald is in excellent company with the nomination. ”Crimes of Redemption” can be found in many bookstores here in Oklahoma and elsewhere and is printed by Roadrunner Press, a successful new publishing house located here in Oklahoma City. In addition to the national chains, a favorite local bookstore, Best of Books in Edmond, Oklahoma will be hosting a signing for McDonald Saturday, March 2, 2013 from 1PM to 2:30PM. Best of Books is located at 1313 E. Danforth in Edmond. Following that there is another book signing for McDonald at Full Circle Book Store in 50 Penn Place on March 28. This will take place from 6:30PM to 8PM Thursday evening. For further information about these book signings or any questions regarding other fine books feel free to call Best of Books at 405-340-9202 or Full Circle at 405-842-2900. March is frequently ushered in with bluster and rain, so, hoping for a rainy weekend, come browse the great selection at Best of Books on Saturday, the second day of March or Full Circle at the end of the month and meet an exceptional new novelist from our neck of the woods–Linda McDonald.
Tipsy is a state of mind as much as a state of inebriation. Getting together in fellowship to share an experience over a drink allows any participant freedom of expression. Even a club soda with a twist or coffee, still the camaraderie plays out because one is among understanding new acquaintances supporting an endeavor and encouraging creative new efforts. And that is the glorious result that every patron of The Tipsy Artist claims as they bring home a canvas that represents a new truth for an old art – the art of courage in the glory of personal revelation.
But it is just a gathering of people painting along with Tiffany Bora, an intrepid leader in discovery as she sets up a simple subject for non-artists to experience painting. People lose some inhibitions through the wine they have brought to the ‘bring your own bottle’ event, but they lose all inhibitions through the sharing that comes with the experience. Additionally, since fun is the main objective of this exercise, fun is the evening that patrons always experience.
Tiffany Bora is married to Joe Bohrer, known as Utopia Joe among his followers and fans. She uses the name Bora because it is so much easier to spell, when one is a little bit tipsy. A class with The Tipsy Artist consists of meeting in a space set up either at Gallery Grazioso in Guthrie or, on occasion, elsewhere such as a metropolitan restaurant. Classes are around $25.00 per person including all the supplies needed to produce a work of art (outside of those supplies the artist imbibes).
The classes are a great deal of fun and many discover talent they didn’t know they had. In addition to a piece of art, guests come home with peace of mind from the experience. In an utterly relaxed atmosphere, the comfort level could only be enhanced by stripping down and wearing only the most comfortable of clothes if any. Aha! Naked painting? The Tipsy Artist is developing a plan for that as well with an online class shortly to be announced. Just make sure your camera isn’t on both ways, and follow the class experience on line—that should be lots of fun! Look for those classes to be announced shortly on her website which is www.TipsyArtist.com. For further information Tiffany can be contacted through email at Tiffany@TheTipsyArtist.com . There is nothing more fun in making new friends than joining such a party from the Tipsy Artist Wine and Paint Parties.
Members of a recent class had a great time and many of them are repeat ‘attenders’ as well as first timers. Newbies resolve to return again to share with other friends. People usually come in twos, couples have a great ‘date night’ and friends have a relaxing escape but larger private parties are easily arranged as well. Contact The Tipsy Artist online at the above address or call 405-822-0481. The Tipsy Art is on Facebook www.facebook.com/TipsyArtist as well so check out her page and don’t resist the ‘like’ button.
The 1960’s will always be remembered for the monumental social changes that took place as young Americans reexamined social structures and modes of conduct. Clearly the baby was thrown out with the bathwater as people lost track of the reason for good manners, and rude behavior became acceptable. “Mrs. Mannerly” by Jeffrey Hatcher is opening soon at Carpenter Square Theatre and is a light hearted comedy about a class in etiquette that is available for students.
Helen Anderson Kirk (called Mrs. Mannerly because she teaches these classes along with public speaking, and drama) is played by the talented Linda McDonald. Kaleb Bruza plays Jeffrey, a young and surprisingly eager student. Bruza also brings to life eight other characters and the ensuing hijinks become very amusing for the audience.
Kenneth Benton directs “Mrs. Mannerly” while Artistic Director Rhonda Clark handles the costumes. Sunny Dawn Marler is the stage manager and James Polk Wilson is the set and lighting designer.
The show runs from February 22-March 16; curtain is at 8:00 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, 7:30 p.m. on Thursdays in March, and a 2:00 p.m. Sunday matinee on March 10.
For information and reservations visit the Carpenter Square Theatre online at www.carpentersquare.com or call 405-232-6500. Carpenter Square is located at 800 W. Main in downtown Oklahoma City with convenient parking nearby.
“Mrs. Mannerly” shapes up to be a very entertaining show and should remind old hippies (self-included) of the havoc they have wrought.
Harper Lee’s novel, “To Kill a Mockingbird,” is a coming of age tale told through the eyes of the children Scout, Jem, and Dill. The story explores the irrationality of adult attitudes toward race and class as Scout’s father, Atticus Finch, is faced with defending a black man charged with the rape of a white woman in rural Alabama. The Pollard Theatre is presenting the show in Guthrie, February 22-March 16.
First, some local context: In 1962, a new Junior-Senior High School was opening in central Oklahoma. A 29 year-old librarian and Home Economics teacher was ordered by the principal to remove a book from the shelves because the story had to do with a white woman and a black man. The librarian reportedly said she would not be part of a library that would ban that book. She told the principal that he could just fire her on the spot. Instead, the principal backed down and “To Kill a Mockingbird” remained a part of the school library.
It also remains a significant experience in the theatre, and this month The Pollard Theater will proudly present this American classic. “To Kill a Mockingbird” opens Friday evening, February 22, and runs through Saturday, March 16, with shows Thursday-Saturday evenings and two Sunday matinees.
Director W. Jerome Stevenson has a great affinity for the story and believes the show will be one of the most important of the Pollard’s 26 year history. “One of the best-loved stories of all time,” Stevenson explained, “’To Kill a Mockingbird’ has earned the Pulitzer Prize, been translated into more than forty languages, sold more than thirty million copies worldwide, as well as spawned an enormously popular movie. Most recently, librarians across the country gave the book the highest of honors by voting it the best novel of the twentieth century. ‘Mockingbird’ is one of those stories with the ability to reach across dividing lines—race, gender, generations, etc.—to connect people to one another. I believe audiences are going to be touched by this story in a lasting way and I can’t wait for them to experience it.”
Patrons will find the show’s cast to be a diverse cross-section of Pollard veterans as well as some faces new to this Guthrie stage. The cast of “To Kill a Mockingbird” includes James A. Hughes, Lane Fields, James Ong, Lance Reese, Gwendolyn Evans, Emily Brown, David Fletcher-Hall, De’Vin Lewis, Beverly Caviness, Cory King, Ben Bates, and a small army of featured performers. Matthew Maloy, Harry Simpson, and Alexandria Grable play the three children Jem, Dill, and Scout.
Back to our Oklahoma librarian: The young woman who stood her ground and insisted that this important work remain part of a school library was this writer’s mother. Support the committed librarians and teachers who have brought so many difficult classics to students through the years, and come to see “To Kill a Mockingbird.”
Curtain is at 8:00 p.m. Thursday, Friday, and Saturday with 2:00 p.m. matinees on Sunday. Purchase tickets through the Pollard Box Office at (405) 282-2800 or online at www.thepollard.org. Special online only ticket prices are available for Thursday and Sunday performances. A Student Rush ticket price of $10.00 is available for each performance. Students must present their Student IDs and cash at the Box Office to take advantage of this special price.
Don’t miss this amazing production of “To Kill a Mockingbird”—an American classic!
Rob Becker is a writer, actor and stand-up comic who developed “Defending the Caveman” the longest running solo play on Broadway. His show demonstrates the male perspective on the never-ending battle of the sexes, but with the underlying understanding of the female view that every happily married man eventually discovers. “Defending the Caveman” has been brought to Oklahoma City by Oklahoma City Repertory Theatre in association with Theater Mogul. The presentation stars John Venable and he has captured Becker’s original perfectly. As a one-man show, the Production Manager serves in the directorial capacity as needed and Steve Emerson along with Venable rely on the excellent assistance of Ben Hall, Technical Director and Master Electrician, Kathrine Mitchell.
The character Venable plays is Everyman, and Venable is every man who celebrates, along with the French, ‘vive la différence!’ He shows tenderness towards the female as she talks through her life while her male partner silently observes. And in doing so, Venable makes the key visible. Laughter is that key and the audience laughs at him, with him and at themselves as well. That’s because the battle between the sexes is about a naturally funny situation that can easily turn tragic when couples do not recognize one another with grace. “Defending the Caveman” is the perfect show for couples and a great treat for Valentine ’s Day. That is not to say that only couples enjoy the show. A son can better understand a mother and a father can better understand a daughter. A boss can better understand an employee, and an Oklahoman can better understand a Texan. Above all, a lover can understand and appreciate a lover.
Caveman John Venable is a renowned actor from Dallas, regionally based across the Red River and his Texas roots become universal. His performance reveals an in depth knowledge of acting and all the nuances actors use to reveal the humanity of their characters.
Don Jordan, Artistic Director of CityRep has brought us an exceptional evening with “Defending the Caveman” and this allows us to laugh just a little more and with just a little heartier sound. A giggle becomes a chuckle, a chuckle becomes an exhilarating guffaw that is most infectious.
“Defending the Caveman” plays at the Freede Theatre in the Civic Center Music Hall at 201 N. Walker in downtown Oklahoma City. Curtain is at 7:30Pm, not 8PM, to facilitate parking for patrons, and matinees are at 1:30. Call the CityRep box office number, 405-848-3761, for ticket information and to ask about the special Valentine’s Day presentation this coming Thursday, February 14, 2013. Laugh yourself silly and fall in love all over again.
“Crimes of the Heart” by Beth Henley is currently being presented by the Oklahoma City Theatre Company at the CitySpace Theatre located in the lower level of the Civic Center Music Hall. “Crimes of the Heart” is under the direction of Rachel Irick, Artistic Director of OKCTC and this production reveals her expertise.
Two sisters, Lenore and Margaret (called Lenny and Meg) must rally round the third sister and her tragic difficulty. Rebecca is the youngest sister, called Babe by the family. Her husband has been shot and she is presumed guilty as she admits to pulling the trigger. The eldest sister, Lenny, has remained single and stayed at home to care for the ailing grandfather who is in the hospital recovering from a series of strokes. Meg has been pursuing a singing career with little success and only returns as the result of Lenny’s frantic telegram. Babe is in limbo of course and will give no reason for her desperate action. This is quite a reunion for the three young women and it is certainly understandable that no one remembers Lenny’s birthday.
Cousin Chick is the other granddaughter who glories in the misfortunes of her cousins. Also part of the story is Doc, a former boyfriend of Meg’s who has remained a friend of the family. Barnett is the young lawyer retained to defend Babe as she has been charged with attempted murder for the shooting of her husband. The interaction with the six characters as they deal with the tragic issues of this very dysfunctional family is smooth and natural.
Rachel Irick does an exceptional job in staging “Crimes of the Heart” and her cast creates believably flawed and sympathetic characters. J. Collin Spring is Doc and his performance is controlled and accurately represents the common southern man with dignity. Barnett, the eager young lawyer determined to vindicate Babe is played by Kyle Reed, making his first onstage appearance with the Oklahoma City Theatre Company. His performance is a welcome addition. Peggy Free is also new to the OKCTC stage. Her performance as the very unsympathetic and shallow cousin Chick, is excellent as she lends credibility to a character that could easily be a caricature.
“Crimes of the Heart” is a tear jerker requiring a voluminous handkerchief from the men’s department as the little hanky we women usually carry won’t cut it. The cast members portraying the three sisters are stars of the show shining through our tears. Valerie Compton also makes her OKCTC debut with “Crimes of the Heart” and her performance is thoughtful, connected and colorful. Compton is a definite asset to the Oklahoma City theater community. Michele Fields is a superb Meg and captures the flawed character with a nice tongue-in-cheek attitude that complements the other characters beautifully. The third sister, Babe, is delightfully portrayed by Keila Lorenc familiar to the audience of Frankenstein as Mary Shelley. As Babe, Lorenc displays versatility and charm.
Irick’s considered direction showcases these three excellent actresses beautifully in their starring roles for “Crimes of the Heart” and the supporting cast members complement the performances nicely. Lighting and set design by Scott Hynes matches the mood in the show perfectly. Jeff Karl is Sound Designer and works well with Stage Manager Kory Kight and Assistant Stage Manager Kyra Ruddy. Costumes by Christi Newbury reflect the lifestyle of the characters but seem a trifle ill-fitting in some cases yet not enough to distract from the quality of the actors’ performances.
“Crimes of the Heart” plays through February 17, 2013, at the Civic Center Music Hall in downtown Oklahoma City at 201 N.Walker. The CitySpace Theatre is located on the lower level of the Civic Center. For ticket information call the Civic Center box office at 405–297–2264. Oklahoma City Theatre Company also has tickets available online at www.okctc.org. Curtain is at 8 PM Friday and Saturday night and a Sunday 2 PM matinee. Grab your hankies but don’t be surprised at the delightful bits of comic relief skillfully woven into “Crimes of the Heart” and delight in these excellent performances.
As always, Reduxion Theatre Company offers a little something for everyone with their newest production, “Love’s Labour’s Lost”! One of Shakespeare’s lesser known comedies, Erin Woods (Director, Managing Director) sets the production in 1953 Spain, drawing inspiration from the public’s fascination with royals and other celebrity figures. The live music directed by Kristin Marie Stang with dance scenes choreographed by Susan Riley and fight scenes choreographed by Tyler Woods keep the pace lively through what is one of Shakespeare’s longer comedies. Costume Designer Catherine Pitt and Assistant Sarah Larson help the audience identify a large cast of characters at a glance, with help from Lighting Designer Ciera Terry.
The story follows the naive King Ferdinand (Sam Bearer) as he tries to navigate his duties by eschewing distraction in the form of food, women and sleep from himself and his court. The foil comes in the form of the Princess of France (Claire Powers) and her attendants, who manage to divert the King and his court but also send everyone on their way in the end. While the romance between Ferdinand and the Princess is seems the most important, what goes on between Rosaline (Holly McNatt) and Berowne (Mitchell Reid) is much more interesting. Where the King is simply misguided, Berowne is dangerous– playing with Rosaline’s affections from the beginning. The other four principles (Longaville, Dumaine, Maria, and Katherine) are expertly matched and hilariously played by Ian S. Clinton, Jeffrey Burleson, Susan Riley, and Catherine Pitt respectively.
The story is filled out by a cast of supporting characters who further demonstrate Shakespeare’s penchant for the ridiculous. Charlie Monnot’s Boyet, one of the Princess’s attendants, always has a cutting observation. The plot turns on a comedy of errors involving Berowne, photographer Costard (Burleson), aspiring model Jaquenetta (Riley), Don Adriano de Armado played by Timothy Berg, and Moth played by Jessa Schinske. A misdelivered letter and a wealth of hiding places show Ferdinand and his court the error of their ways and misadventures begin anew as the men attempt to court their chosen ladies.
The show is produced hilariously, though a little slow at times. Woods does justice to the full range of Shakespeare’s themes, portraying the respect for the good in human nature with the same eclat and enthusiasm as the dirty jokes. The ensemble cast has terrific chemistry, with some really outstanding comedic performances. It’s a great date night show (and they offer a cute couple’s package!) or an afternoon of family fun. It’s also worth noting that as the show’s run ends at the Broadway Theatre they take their show on the road, performing the full show during their Metropolitan Library System tour.
The show runs at the Broadway Theatre through March 2nd, with 8 PM shows Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights and 2 PM matinees on February 17th and 24th. More information about the Reduxion Theatre company’s current season and “Love’s Labour’s Lost” can be found here, and tickets can be purchased here. The Broadway Theater is at 1613 N Broadway Ave. and can be reached at 405.651.3191. Enjoy the show!
By Anna Holloway
“Some Enchanted Evening” at Lyric Theatre offers five strong, young voices and two brilliant pianists offering many favorite songs from Rodgers and Hammerstein’s classic musicals.
The songs in Act I are designed as dialogs and interactions, and in Act II as reflections and soliloquies. They require strong singers, two men and three women, each of whom must be able to really “sell” a song.
In the Lyric’s performance, Jamie Buxton as “Nellie,” Dallas Lish as “Billy,” Heather Geery as “Anna,” Ethan Spell as “Will,” and Melissa Griffith as “Julie” gave us that experience.
The show is staged to open at a rehearsal, with a stage manager and crew moving things around as the singers gather in street clothes and take us through the first few songs. This comfortable and relaxed opening allows us to get into the music without the burden of formal expectations. At the end of this first section, each performance features a short visit with a different performer from Lyric Theatre’s fifty-year history. In addition to allowing the Oklahoma City audience to revisit some of the theatre’s past, this little cameo allows the cast to change into formal attire for the rest of the show, bringing us the high production values we have come to expect from Lyric.
Rodgers, whose music often explores the lower end of a vocal range, can be a real challenge for tenors. Lish, who has a strong dark tenor, still had to use all the technique at his command to handle the Jud Fry soliloquy, “Lonely Room” from “Oklahoma,” which he did very well.
Spell, a slightly lighter tenor voice, gave us a soaring rendition of “There is Nothin’ Like a Dame” from “South Pacific” and a charming “Everything’s Up to Date…” from “Oklahoma.”
The women were, rather stereotypically, blonde, brunette, and redhead. Griffith, a classically trained soprano with a lovely voice, adapted beautifully to the Broadway technique that Rodgers demands, and delivered all of her numbers flawlessly. Geery, the brunette, gave us gutsy and effective versions of “I Cain’t Say No” and “Love Look Away,” and Buxton carried us away with “Cockeyed Optimist.”
These are only a few of the high points. There is lovely comic byplay among the actors in several places, as songs are linked to one another in little “scenes” on stage. Three strong medleys, involving the whole company, also give us some glorious harmonies.
The technical aspects of theatre, when done right, are never apparent to the audience and so are often under appreciated. “Some Enchanted Evening” includes two very talented pianists who are fully present and almost invisible in their musical skill, Mary Brozina and Brian Hamilton (who also serves as Music Director for the production). In the usually unseen position of production stage manager, Julie Meyer ran the show flawlessly.
“Some Enchanted Evening” celebrates Lyric Theatre’s 50th Anniversary year and offers a lovely evening of golden age musical theatre. Take the time to enjoy this tribute to American class musical theatre, and to a great local theatre’s fifty years of excellence.
Lyric on the Plaza, 1727 NW 16th street, Tues-Thurs at 7:30, Fri-Sat at 8:00, and Sat-Sun at 2:00 through February 16. Check www.lyrictheatreokc.com for ticket information and a list of the special guest cameos scheduled.