‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ spreads its wings at Bonstelle

Photo by Sue Suchyta

Actors from The Players Guild of Dearborn rehearse a madcap scene from the Philip King farce “See How They Run.” The cast includes Katie Suchyta (left) of Dearborn as Ida the maid, Keri Geftos of Southgate as Penelope Toop and Marc Rosati of Berkley as the Reverend Lionel Toop and Linda Mosley (prone) of Allen Park as Miss Skillon, a tea-totaling gossip. The show, directed by Lucinda Chavez, will run for three weekends, Jan. 14 to 16, 21 to 23 and 28 to 30. Friday and Saturday shows are at 8 p.m., with 2:30 p.m. Sunday matinees. The theater is at 21730 Madison in Dearborn, south of the intersection of Monroe and Outer Drive. For more information, call (313) 561-TKTS or go to www.playersguildofdearborn.org.

By Sue Suchyta
Christopher Sergel’s stage play “To Kill a Mockingbird,” based upon Harper Lee’s widely read and critically acclaimed novel, sang a sweet song all its own as it opened Friday at Wayne State University’s undergraduate Bonstelle Theatre.

From fine acting to a versatile set, with comfortable costumes that the characters made their own, the show takes us back in time to an era that was simpler in some ways while tragically complex in others.

Through the eyes of “Scout” Finch, an inquisitive young girl on the cusp of adolescence during the Great Depression, we learn the life lessons gleaned from the title as the story unfolds.

The mockingbird in the title is a peaceful songbird that mimics other birds; therefore, it is seldom seen for what it is, but for what it is perceived to be – an imitation of something else.

The play, set in a small southern town in the 1930s was insular in many ways, and prejudices did not have much of a chance to be either ignored or disproven.

Tom Robinson is unjustly convicted of rape in the Deep South simply because he was a Negro. Even with Scout’s father’s legal brilliance they cannot get past the entrenched racism that would have helped the jury recognize that they were condemning an innocent man to a certain death.

Boo Radley was a quiet recluse who lived on the Finch’s block. An air of mystery hung over him, and the children, curious about him, latch on to every crumb of information they can glean, which further perpetuates the adult stereotypes.

Therefore, both Radley and Robinson are seen through the prejudiced eyes of others in the small town. They become the innocent “mocking birds” who are judged by external standards that have no bearing on them as individuals.

Atticus Finch, as a lawyer and a parent, tries to teach his children about injustice using the mockingbird, teaching them that to kill a mockingbird or an innocent man is wrong.

Siena Hassett of Grosse Pointe Park is simply superb as Jean Louise “Scout” Finch, the young girl on the edge of adolescence who soaks up experiences and impressions like a sponge.

Robbie Dwight of Detroit as Atticus Finch is wonderful as well, whether delivering simple life lessons to his children one-on-one or teaching them through example as he defends the innocent.

Kerianne Fergurson of Dearborn Heights as Maudie Atkinson very effectively provides continuity in the storyline by serving as a neighbor narrator.

Other strong performances were delivered by Nicholas Yocum of Royal Oak as Jeremy “Jem” Finch, Matthew Miazgowicz of Dearborn as Dill and Ciarah Mosley of Detroit as Calpurnia, the Finch’s housekeeper and mother hen.

Other notable performances included Patrick Loos of Highland as Bob Ewell, Caitlin Morrison of Romeo as Mayella Ewell, Taurean Hogan of Detroit as Tom Robinson and Cal M. Schwartz of Dearborn as Judge Taylor.

The play runs for one more weekend, Friday through Sunday at the Bonstelle, 3424 Woodward Ave. in Detroit. Tickets are $12 to $15 and are available though the theater box office at (313) 577-2960 and online at www.bonstelle.com.

A $25 “American Literature Classic” package will allow theater goers to see both “To Kill a Mockingbird” and the Hilberry Theatre’s production of John Steinbeck’s “Of Mice and Men.”

For more information, go to www.bonstelle.com or call (313) 577-2960.