Kevinisha Walker Staff Writer
Directed by Tommye Myrick
Produced by Bayou Playhouse
It's 1935 in Maycomb, Ala., and a local lawyer is tasked with defending a 25-year-old black man who's been accused of raping a young white woman. Despite the town's objection to the lawyer's defense of the black man, the lawyer defends him. The few non-black people who support the defense are the lawyer's own children. Interestingly, the eye of a child is the lens through which the story is told. And if it sounds familiar, it's because it is "To Kill a Mockingbird," a classic tale and one of the best-known novels in American literature.
Bayou Playhouse, 101 Main St., Lockport, will stage a production of the classic Feb. 3-19.
New Orleans-based producer and director Tommye Myrick will lead the diverse cast of seasoned and newly discovered actors. The newest actors also happen to be the youngest, including 11-year-old Carter Creppell of Houma who plays Jem. "It is a really big honor for me to be working with all these people," he said. "This is amazing and fun and more than I could've imagined." While Myrick will make her directorial debut on the Bayou Playhouse stage, this production of "To Kill a Mockingbird" will be her second time bringing the classic tale to life on stage. The first time was in 2005 in New Orleans. "Since then, a lot has happened in America. A lot has happened in society and (the play) is very appropriate for this period of time because it almost feels like America's going full circle. It almost feels like it's going backwards," she said.
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Carolyn Bryant Donham -- the white woman who accused a 14-year-old black boy named Emmett Till of flirting with her in 1955 -- recently revealed that her accusation was a lie. Till was murdered by a lynch mob. Carol Sutton plays Calpurnia in "Mockingbird," and she recognized that Till's tragic story has many parallels with Tom's situation in the play, which is why it's so relevant at this time. Portraying defense attorney Atticus Finch is New Orleans attorney Greg Dileo. For him, art easily imitates life as both he and Finch are trial attorneys. In fact, it was the Atticus' character that inspired him to become a lawyer.
"I was originally going to be a doctor, and when I decided I didn't want that, I knew I wanted to do something that would make a difference. Atticus kept coming back to me as a way to make a difference," he said. Janet Shea plays Mrs. Dubose who's a native of Maycomb and one of the town's many racists. "She's old and sick, but when she comes out, it's just to complain and express her distaste for people, especially black people," Shea said. Playing the gentleman on trial, Tom Robinson, is Mississippi native Dominique McClellan.
Myrick and many cast members praised McClellan for his emotional capacity with his portrayal of Robinson. "I'm drawing from a whole era (Jim Crow South) because there were so many Tom Robinsons during that time. That's what's driving the emotional aspect of this character," he said. "To Kill a Mockingbird" tackles race and class, but this production will also reveal a different perspective that deals with romantic attraction. "What you see here are two young people who watch each other grow into manhood and womanhood. Two young people who see each other every day or five times a week," Myrick said. "We attempt to show that these young people are victims of circumstances."