“To Kill A Mockingbird” is celebrating its 50th anniversary on the stage at the God and Country Theater on 76 Country Boulevard today, Sunday and Feb. 22-24.
“This is history in the making,” producer Angela Walker said. “It is actually required reading in schools across the country, even to this day. It speaks about social (and) economic (issues) and it really tells you how far we’ve come as a country.”
This storyline revolves around racial tensions and character Atticus Finch’s ability to not see the color of the people.
“There were people who did not see color,” Walker said. “No, they didn’t see black and white, they see people. It has a very high social message that needs to be spoken even today. I especially think in this area.”
Because of the time period “To Kill A Mockingbird” is set in, there are racial slurs within the content.
“It is part of our history and, even though it’s not a pretty part, there’s still that good that came out of it 50 years later,” Walker said. “It’s hard to say it, but it’s the truth. It’s something that people do sugar coat in this day and age in our politically correct life, but it’s the truth so shall we sweep it under the rug?”
Thirteen-year-old Andrew Roberts has been cast as the role of Dill. In this role, which was traditionally cast as a white child’s role, Roberts is the first black actor to perform in this position.
Roberts’ mom insisted he try out for the part he originally didn’t want, but he changed his mind once he got to know the character’s quirkiness.
Roberts said he encourages people to see the theater production.
“I hope that they see that black and white doesn’t really make a difference in a person,” Roberts said. “It’s really their heart and not their skin color.”
Sophie Aydt is also the character Dill and will perform on alternate days. This 15-year-old teenager is playing a boy five years her junior.
“You do have to walk different, talk different, act a little different,” Aydt said. “He’s still a very emotional character.”
Reggie Harris plays the role of Tom Robinson, a black man accused of raping a young teenager. His character is set in a difficult situation because of the racial tension, but the lawyer, Atticus Finch, has the job to prove Robinson’s innocence.
For Harris, this is his first acting role and working with the cast and crew members has assisted him with becoming a better actor.
“This has helped me become better,” Harris said, “and really understanding the art of playwright and understanding the art of acting.”
Eight-year-old Courtney Poe plays Scout. This is Poe’s first time performing: her biggest fear, she said, is being on stage and forgetting her lines.
“Someone would probably come in and say their line, but I just don’t want to miss my line,” Poe said.
Although some characters use derogatory language, Poe said she is never going to use those words.
“I’m never going to use that language, but (“To Kill A Mockingbird” is) trying to get out something that everyone needs to know,” Poe said.
Kelly Embree portrays adult Scout, official name Jean Louise, after nearly 40 years have gone by since the events of 1935.
Shows are offered Feb. 16-17 and Feb. 22-24. Showtimes are at 7 p.m Friday and Saturday and at 2 p.m Sunday. Tickets are $12 for adults and $8 for students.
For more information, call 417-335-4241.