Arizona Theatre Co.: TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD

Cast, Director and Artistic Crew

A great American classic and one of the most beloved coming-of-age novels ever written, Harper Lee’s moving tale of life in rural Alabama during the Depression is filled with heartache and joy, conflict and conciliation. TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD plays in Tucson at the Temple of Music and Art from March 1 through March 22, 2008.

It continues its run in Phoenix at the Herberger Theater Center from March 27 through April 13. The Tucson production underwriters for TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD are Chase, The Stonewall Foundation, Elizabeth Cochran, Dr. Mary Jo Ghory and Mary & Robert Wolk, and the Phoenix production underwriter is Chase. Arizona Theatre Company’s season underwriters are I. Michael and Beth Kasser.
In TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD, Scout, a nine-year-old tomboy, grows up quickly guided by the wisdom her father, Atticus Finch, and the schoolyard smarts of her brother, Jem.  When Atticus is called upon to defend an unfairly accused black man in a public trial, Scout learns about honesty, integrity and generosity in a time and place where black and white, rich and poor, young and old struggled daily to find common ground and survive. 

TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD is the first production in ATC’s AMERICA PLAYS! Celebrating Great American Stories initiative. This ambitious multi-year series of beloved American classics will include special public forums, readings, education programs and state-wide community-based events. ATC intends that these events will enhance the audience’s play-going experience. All additional events will be free and open to the public.  Programming will include a re-examination, or “mock trial,” of Tom Robinson led by local attorneys, interactive reader’s theater events at neighborhood libraries and in-depth Book Club dialogues illuminating Harper Lee’s novel.

Director Samantha K. Wyer notes that “Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird is a timeless classic of childhood discovery and great courage. Young Scout cannot understand the racial prejudice and hatred that has permeated her world as she witnesses her father, Atticus Finch defend Tom Robinson. Through Atticus’s gentle teachings and firm integrity, Scout learns true compassion and strength on her journey into adulthood.”

HARPER LEE was born April 28, 1926 in Monroeville, Alabama. She was the youngest of four children, a tomboy and an avid reader. She attended Huntingdon College and the University of Alabama, where she wrote short stories and pieces about racial injustice, as well as articles for the campus literary magazines. After college, she moved to New York City, where she worked as a reservation clerk for Eastern Airlines in New York City until the late 1950s, when she resolved to devote herself to writing. Having written several long stories, Harper Lee located an agent in November 1956. Ms. Lee worked on her first book for two and a half years, initially titling it Atticus. She completed To Kill a Mockingbird in the summer of 1959 and it was first published in 1960. The novel was an instant success, earning the Pulitzer Prize for 1961, and the Brotherhood Award of National Conference of Christians and Jews in the same year. After the success of her first novel, Harper Lee published a few magazine articles and also assisted her friend, Truman Capote, in research for his magnum opus, In Cold Blood. To Kill a Mockingbird, however, remains her sole published novel.

The Pulitzer Prize-winning novel has been adapted for the stage by CHRISTOPHER SERGEL, whose adaptation of Sherwood Anderson's Winesburg, Ohio was seen on Broadway. He also wrote adaptations of Cheaper by the Dozen, The Mouse That Roared, Up the Down Staircase, Fame, Black Elk Speaks and many more.

SAMANTHA K. WYER (Director) is ATC’s Associate Artistic Director and Director of Education. Her directing credits at ATC include I Am My Own Wife, Tuesdays with Morrie, Permanent Collection, A Streetcar Named Desire, A Moon for the Misbegotten, Proof and Wit. Her additional Arizona directing credits include Betrayal, Three Sisters, The Two Gentlemen of Verona, Angels in America: Millennium Approaches and Arcadia at Arizona Repertory Theatre, Sleeping Beauty at Childsplay, Anger Box and The Eight: Reindeer Monologues by Jeff Goode and Two Days of Grace at Middleham by Toni Press-Coffman, a play she also directed for the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in Scotland.  Ms. Wyer was awarded the Buffalo Exchange Arts Award for Emerging Artists by the Community Foundation of Southern Arizona.

The cast of TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD

The cast features new faces, as well as returning favorites.

(Photo) John Rensenhouse and Daria LeGrand in Arizona Theatre Company's TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD

John Rensenhouse (Atticus Finch) recently finished a stint with the national tour of The Lion King and also toured nationally with the Broadway production of Noises Off. Mr. Rensenhouse has performed at many regional theatres including the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Repertory Theatre of St. Louis, Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park, San Jose Repertory Theatre, and Arena Stage. Mr. Rensenhouse is a graduate of The Orme School in Mayer, Arizona. 

Wendy Robie (Jean Louise) previously appeared at ATC in The Heidi Chronicles and Work Song: Three Views of Frank Lloyd Wright. She most recently appeared in Brian Bedford’s King Lear at the 2007 Stratford Shakespeare Festival of Canada. Other credits include Chicago Shakespeare Theatre, Goodman Theatre and Steppenwolf Theatre Company and Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? at Phoenix Theatre.

Daria Legrand (Scout) is 12 years old and lives in the Kansas City area where she has been seen in numerous productions including the world premiere musicals The Happy Elf (composed by Harry Connick, Jr.) and Geppetto and Son (composed by Stephen Schwartz) at The Coterie Theatre; and Annie, Jesus Christ Superstar and The Wizard of Oz at Starlight Theatre.

(Photo) Adam Moffitt, Christopher Moffitt and Daria LeGrand in Arizona Theatre Company's
TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD

Adam Moffitt (Jem) recently appeared as JoJo in Seussical with Childsplay,  The Sound of Music and Camelot at Broadway Palm Dinner Theatre, and several shows at Valley Youth Theatre. Mr. Moffitt is 13 and an eighth grade student at Tempe Preparatory Academy. Christopher Moffitt (Dill) has appeared as Tiny Tim in A Christmas Carol at Actors Theatre, The Will Rogers Follies at Phoenix Theatre, The Quiltmaker’s Gift at Phoenix Theatre’s Cookie Company, and in several shows with Valley Youth Theatre. Mr. Moffitt is nine, and in fourth grade at Ward Traditional Academy in Tempe.

James T. Alfred (Tom Robinson) returns to ATC, having appeared in last season’s Jitney. His acting credits include the world premiere of RedShirts at Penumbra Theatre Company and Round House Theatre, Romeo and Juliet and Three Sisters at American Repertory Theatre, The Bacchae at the Moscow Art Studio Theatre and Our Lady of 121st Street at Steppenwolf Theatre Company.

(Photo) Roberto Guajardo, James T. Alfred and John Rensenhouse in Arizona Theatre Company's
TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD

Roberto Guajardo (Mr. Radley/Judge Taylor) most recently appeared at ATC in Molly’s Delicious. Other ATC productions include Twelfth Night, Sherlock Holmes: The Final Adventure, Macbeth, Over the Moon, and Much Ado About Nothing among many others. Other regional appearances include Kansas City Repertory Theatre, Pasadena Playhouse, Seattle Repertory Theatre and San Jose Repertory Theatre. Mr. Guajardo has also worked extensively throughout Arizona, including performances at Invisible Theatre, Borderlands Theater, Beowulf Alley Theatre Company, The Flagstaff Festival of the Arts, Actor’s Lab, Arizona Jewish Theatre Company, Actors Theatre and Phoenix Theatre.

Julia Lema (Calpurnia) has previous appeared at ATC in Crowns, Swinging on a Star and Ain’t Misbehavin’. Her credits include performances in Lena Horne: The Lady and Her Music, Ain’t Misbehavin’, Dreamgirls, and Stormy Weather: Imagining Lena Horne.

Maedell Dixon (Mrs. Dubose) appeared at ATC in Blithe Spirit, Amadeus, Katsina and Don’t Look Back. She appeared Off-Broadway in Intimate Letters. Other appearances include work with Chamber Music Plus Southwest, Phoenix Theatre, Invisible Theatre, Actors Repertory Theatre of Sedona, Arizona Repertory Theatre, and Guthrie Theater.

Cale Epps (Mr. Gilmer) appeared in ATC’s Twelfth Night. Other recent credits include the title role in Macbeth with Southwest Shakespeare Company and The Lieutenant of Inishmore and The Pillowman with Actors Theatre. Mr. Epps has worked extensively throughout Arizona, including performances with Shakespeare Sedona, Arizona Jewish Theatre, Childsplay, Stray Cat Theatre, Nearly Naked Theatre and Blackball Ensemble.

David Alexander Johnston (Boo Radley/Walter Cunningham) was last seen at ATC in The Fantasticks. Other ATC credits include Much Ado About Nothing and My Fair Lady. He has performed locally with Arizona Opera, The Rogue Theatre, Beowulf Alley Theatre, and Arizona Onstage Productions, among others.

Mike Lawler (Sheriff Heck Tate) appeared in ATC’s productions of A Midsummer Night’s Dream and The Two Gentlemen of Verona. He has also performed with Phoenix Theatre, Actors Theatre, Arizona Jewish Theatre Company and Canyon Moon Theatre in Sedona.

Bruce Nelson (Reverend Sykes) returns to ATC, having previously appeared in The Robber Bridegroom, My Fair Lady and You Can’t Take It With You.

Making their ATC debut are Scott Cordes (Bob Ewell), who has been a professional actor and director in Kansas City for more than 20 years. His acting credits there include work with Unicorn Theatre, Heart of America Shakespeare Festival, The Coterie Theatre, New Theatre, Actors Theatre of Kansas City, American Heartland Theatre and Kansas City Repertory Theatre; Jessica Goldapple (Mayella Ewell) recently appeared in the world premiere of Screwballs at Odyssey Theatre Ensemble in Los Angeles. Other roles include Kattrin in Mother Courage and her Children at The Theatre @ Boston Court and the title role in The Little Prince at South Coast Repertory; Tamika Lawrence (Helen Robinson) is a student at the University of Arizona.  Recent performances include the role of Viney in The Miracle Worker, and a member of the ensemble in Candide, both with the Arizona Repertory Theater at the University of Arizona. Also appearing in the ensemble are Victor Bowleg, Jonathan A. J. Northover and Brittney Vega.

The artistic team for TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD

The team includes Hugh Landwehr (Set Designer), who designed Twelfth Night for ATC last season. He designed the Broadway productions of Frozen, Bus Stop, All My Sons and A View from the Bridge. Off-Broadway, he designed Last Easter, Scattergood, The Entertainer and Candide, among others.

His regional theatre work includes productions at Shakespeare Theatre Company, Alley Theatre, Guthrie Theater, Seattle Repertory Theatre and ACT Theatre; Sam Fleming (Costume Designer) returns to ATC, where she designed Bad Dates, A Streetcar Named Desire, A Moon for the Misbegotten, Wit and Proof. She has designed costumes at theatres across the country including the Los Angeles Opera, San Francisco Opera, Milwaukee Repertory Theatre, Denver Center Theatre Company, ACT Theatre, and Berkeley Repertory Theatre. She is the Associate Costume Designer for The Phantom of the Opera on Broadway; Dennis Parichy (Lighting Designer) designed ATC’s productions of The Pajama Game, Twelfth Night, A Streetcar Named Desire, Talley’s Folly, A Moon for the Misbegotten, Ghosts, the world premiere of Sherlock Holmes: The Final Adventure and others. He has worked on Broadway, Off-Off Broadway and in regional theatre and opera.

Mr. Parichy’s Broadway credits include Talley’s Folly (Tony nomination), Crimes of the Heart, As Is, Burn This, Penn & Teller: The Refrigerator Tour, Redwood Curtain (Tony nomination), Coastal Disturbances, The Water Engine and Fifth of July (Tony nomination); Peter Ostroushko (Composer) is most well-known for his 33-year association as musician, radio actor and occasional Musical Director with Garrison Keillor’s A Prairie Home Companion radio show.

He also has had a successful touring career performing concerts all over North America and as far as Moscow. He has written theatre scores for Arizona Theatre Company (The Seagull), The Children’s Theater Company, ACT Theatre, Madison Repertory Theatre and numerous others. His music is often used by filmmaker Ken Burns in his films. In the past year, his music was heard in Robert Altman’s A Prairie Home Companion and Sean Penn’s Into the Wild. John Story (Sound Designer) designed Jitney at ATC last season. He serves as Sound Supervisor for Kansas City Repertory Theatre and the UMKC Department of Theatre. Dianne Winslow (Dialect Coach) returns to ATC after serving as dialect coach for I Am My Own Wife, Pride and Prejudice, Oh Coward!, A Streetcar Named Desire, and My Fair Lady among others. Ms. Winslow is currently a Professor of Theatre Arts at the University of Arizona and Associate Artistic Director of the UA School of Theatre Arts’ Arizona Repertory Theatre.

Brent Gibbs (Fight Director) most recently choreographed the fights for ATC’s Twelfth Night.  He serves on the Theatre Arts faculty at the University of Arizona where he teaches Acting and Stage Combat and serves as Artistic Director. He is a Certified Teacher and Fight Director with the Society of American Fight Directors. Bruno Ingram (Stage Manager) is the Stage Manager and Glenn Bruner is the Assistant Stage Manager.

TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD is a co-production with Kansas City Repertory Theatre.

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All Tucson, AZ performances take place at the Temple of Music and Art (330 S. Scott Avenue); call the Box Office at (520) 622-2823.

All Phoenix performances take place at the Herberger Theater Center (222 E. Monroe Street); call the Box Office at (602) 256-6995. Visit www.arizonatheatre.org for more information.

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