Newnan Theatre Company, in conjunction with Crain Oil Company, will open NTC’s historic 40th season with “To Kill A Mockingbird.”
The script is adapted from Harper Lee’s Pulitzer Prize-winning book by playwright Christopher Sergel, who worked with Lee to bring this version to the stage.
Jean Louise “Scout” Finch (played by Sonya Thomas) is being raised in a quiet southern town by her widower father and lawyer, Atticus (NTC veteran actor-director Lamar Payne), with her brother, Jeremy “Jem” Finch (Fletcher Martin).
Set in 1935, the play illustrates the social issues and language of the time period. Blacks in the community have a special feeling about Scout's father, but in her youthful innocence, she does not know why. A few of her white friends are inexplicably hostile, and Scout doesn't understand that either.
Atticus explains that he is defending a young Negro man wrongfully accused of a grave crime, "because if I didn't, I couldn't hold my head up.” Atticus fights his legal battle in a touching dramatization is an unforgettably meaningful work of art.
NTC’s Artistic Director Tony Daniel is directing the show.
“The book has been a part of my life since I was in the sixth grade,” Daniel said. “I read it at least twice a year, just to remind myself how beautifully Harper Lee constructed a story. It also keeps my feet rooted deep in Southern soil. The story takes a very painful truth about our past and brings it to the forefront, and sadly, the painful truth is not as much in our past as some of us would like it to be.”
Lamar Payne plays Atticus Finch, a role he said he has always wanted to play.
“I have been a fan of the book and the movie for years,” Payne said. “Who can’t watch the movie and see Gregory Peck as a role model?”
Thomas has performed with Newnan Theatre Company’s Academy of Musical Theatre, but this is Martin’s first show with NTC.
“These two young people, along with Jack Higgins, playing Dill, are fascinating to watch,” Daniel said. “They came in to audition, nervous and unsure, and they have grown so much in their confidence and talent just in the short time we have been rehearsing. Watching Sonya with Lamar, you would think the two have literally been parent and child for years.”
The show is narrated by Atticus’s neighbor, Miss Maudie, played by Kelly Banks.
“I knew I wanted to be a part of the show,” Banks said. “But I never thought I would become the voice of Harper Lee.”
Austin Tidwell and Hannah Rubenstein play the villains of the piece, Bob Ewell and his daughter Mayella. This is Tidwell’s return to NTC, since he was a part of the first production of Wait Until Dark 25 years ago.
“My children were almost named Jem and Scout, until my wife put her foot down about it,” Tidwell said with a grin.
Rubenstein is doing her first mainstage show with NTC.
“I’ve been behind the scenes a few times, but now I get to be the one who starts all the trouble,” she said.
To Kill A Mockingbird opens Aug. 17 and runs through Aug. 27. Show times are 8 p.m. Thursdays-Saturdays, and 3 p.m. Sunday afternoons. Tickets are on sale now and can be purchased through the Newnan Theatre Company website, www.newnantheatre.org , or by calling NTC at 770-683-6282.
For more information about the production or ticket sales for groups, please call Artistic Director Tony Daniel at 770-683-6282.