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Friday, March 24, 2017

Providence Players present "To Kill a Mockingbird"

From the left: Robert Heinly (as Atticus Finch), Caden Mitchell (Dill), Sophia Manicone (Scout), and Brendan Dure (Jem). [Chip Gertzog/Providence Players]
By David Siegel

A revered classic for five decades, the Pulitzer Prize-winning book by Harper Lee, “To Kill a Mockingbird,” will come to full life on stage in a presentation by the Providence Players. The show runs through April 8 at the James Lee Community Center.

“To Kill a Mockingbird” takes place in Alabama during the Great Depression, which director Beth Whitehead describes as “a hungry, hurting time in America.”

Told through the eyes of young girl named Scout, the story follows a black man, Tom Robinson, on trial for a crime he did not commit and the heroic efforts of lawyer Atticus Finch to defend him in a town that mostly sees just black and white and the divide between them.

In an interview, Whitehead made clear that “To Kill a Mockingbird” is not only “a powerful story about a town seeking a hero, but also about family, hope, truth, and compassion. It is a love story of Scout, her dad Atticus Finch, her brother, and her search for a place in the world. It is a story that reminds us how important integrity is in each of our lives.”

The Providence Players production has a cast of 27, including 16 area actors making their debut with the company. Nearly 90 actors from throughout the region auditioned for roles.

In the role of Scout is 12-year-old Sophia Manicone of Vienna. Describing her character, Manicone said Scout “learned that one should not be quick to judge others and to have courage to try to stand up for what is right.”

Scout’s older brother, Jem, is played by 14-year-old Brenden Dure of Vienna. Dure says his character must come to face a loss of innocence as “he is awakened to injustice.”

For Philip Kershaw, who appears as Tom Robinson, “the play is about a community and what can happen to marginalized groups in precarious conditions. Those who live on the fringes are automatically presumed guilty by the larger community.”

Atticus Finch is played by Robert Heinly a veteran performer who has appeared throughout Northern Virginia. “Heinly has an earthy, gentle quality that came out immediately in the auditions,” says Whitehead. “He can look at other actors and connect with them; that’s so important to this role.”

While many may remember reading “To Kill a Mockingbird” or seeing the movie, Kershaw invites people to see the Providence Players production and “re-experience and enjoy it in a different way.”

Where and When: Providence Players present “To Kill a Mockingbird” at the James Lee Community Center Theater, 2855 Annandale Road, Falls Church. Performances are March 24-April 8; Thursday, Friday, and Saturday at 7:30 p.m. plus Sunday matinees at 2 p.m. on March 26 and April 2. Tickets are $17-$20. Purchase tickets online or call 703-425-6782.

This piece is based on a review that appeared in the Connection March 20.

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