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Morning Sun
  • PCT hosts To Kill a Mockingbird

  • The Pittsburg Community Theatre production of  “To Kill a Mockingbird” had its first production Wednesday morning with a near-capacity crowd in Pittsburg Memorial Auditorium.

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  • The Pittsburg Community Theatre production of  “To Kill a Mockingbird” had its first production Wednesday morning with a near-capacity crowd in Pittsburg Memorial Auditorium.
    “We’ve got around 1,400 students here from about 10 area high schools and middle schools,” said Jeff  Wilbert, auditorium manager. “They’ve come from as far as Parsons, Oswego and East Newton.”
    The show will be presented for the general public at 7:30 p.m. today and Saturday and 2 p.m.  It does contain simulated gun fire and racial slurs, and may not be appropriate for all audience members.
    Based on the beloved classic by Harper Lee, the story is told by the adult Jean Louise  Finch, played by Faith Paoni, as she looks back on a life-changing (and life-threatening) event that happened in 1935.
    Her childhood self, a strong-willed tomboy nicknamed Scout, is wonderfully portrayed by McKenna Shaw, with A.J. Dellasega doing well as her older brother, Jem. Their father, lawyer Atticus Finch, is played by Greg Shaw, and it’s a joy that he was able to spare time from his duties as Pittsburg High School theater teacher to let local audiences enjoy his own acting talent.
    The family lives in fictional Maycomb, Ala., where racial segregation is a way of life. When Atticus agrees to defend a young black man falsely accused of raping and beating a white girl, even longtime friends turn against him and his children are taunted at school.
    Scout, only 6, questions her father about this, and suggests that maybe he’s wrong to defend the black man because all their friends believe it is wrong.
    “The one thing that is not subject to majority rule is a man’s conscience,” Atticus replies.
    Scout and Jem attend the trial in the company of their housekeeper Calpurnia, played by Shiro Kangeri and Reverend Sykes, played by Devonta’ Thomas.
    It’s a particularly powerful scene, thanks to impressive dramatic turns by Theo Hines as Tom Robinson, the softspoken, respectful defendant, Sienna Paoni as Mayella Ewell, the poor  white girl he supposedly attacked, and Mark Johnson as her father, Bob Ewell.
    A PCT veteran, Johnson has portrayed over-the-top villains in several mellerdrammers. His performance as Bob Ewell is laughable, but also truly chilling.
    Atticus points out that Robinson, with a crippled hand, could not possibly have committed the crime he was accused of, and puts together the true story, that Mayella was so desperate for affection that she tried to force herself of Robinson and was caught by her father and beaten.
    Despite all this, the verdict is guilty. It’s not enough for Bob Ewell, who decides to avenge his public disgrace by attempting to murder Jem and Scout.
    They are saved by the neighborhood bogeyman, Arthur “Boo” Radley, played by James Ryals. Though he appears only at the end, he is “present” throughout the play because Jem, Scout and their friend Dill, played by Xavier Huffman, talk about him often and dare each other to set foot in the yard of his house.
    Page 2 of 2 - Boo had been made a virtual prisoner in the house by his father after getting into some minor trouble with the law as a teenager. However, the recluse wills himself to leave his house and come to their rescue when he sees that the children’s lives are threatened.
    The cast also includes Cindy Green and Adina Sanchez as Finch neighbors; Stephanie Powers as Mrs. Dubose, a mean-mouthed old lady who is fighting her own battles;  Chuck Broyles as Nathan Radley, Boo’s brother, and Mr. Gilmer; Mike Green as Heck Tate, local sheriff; Paul Smith as Judge Taylor; Jon Eastman as Walter Cunningham; Johnna Wright as Helen Robinson; Don Orender, Lothar Vogel and Mike Smith as townspeople; and Austin VanBecelaere as Link Deas.
    The play is directed by Tony Sanchez, with James Ryals as assistant director. Jason Huffman is lighting designer and Joel Viets is sound designer. Mimi Little is in charge of props. Lisa Quinteros was in charge of costume design. Set construction was done by Jason Huffman, Austin Curtright, Linden Little, Tony Sanchez, Denise Williams and Dan Williams.

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