published Friday, September 9th, 2011

'To Kill a Mockingbird' opens at Colonnade

IF YOU GO

What: "To Kill a Mockingbird."

When: 7:30 p.m. today, Saturday and Sept. 16, 1 and 7:30 p.m. Sept. 17.

Where: Catoosa County Colonnade, 264 Catoosa Circle, Ringgold, Ga.

Admission: $11 adults, $9 seniors and students, $8 groups.

Phone: 706-935-9000.

Website: www.colonnadecenter.org.

Theater audiences at the Catoosa County Colonnade are used to musicals, comedy and family-friendly fare, said J.C. Smith of Closed Door Entertainment, but the drama that opens at the Ringgold, Ga., theater tonight is dark, contains realistic language and portrays racial injustice.

Yet, he said, "To Kill a Mockingbird" is a literary classic, offers the emotion of live theater and presents a cast that has "stepped to the plate" to offer the true emotion vital in such a show.

"To Kill a Mockingbird," the novel of which was written by Harper Lee, is narrated by Scout, a young girl whose life is changed by what happens in her town of Macomb, Ala., in 1935.

Scout and her brother, Jem, are being raised by their widowed father, Atticus, an attorney who defends a young black man wrongfully accused of a crime in an era when a black man accused of a crime was already judged as guilty.

"Most shows at the Colonnade are edited for content and language," Smith said, "but we have left everything true to the script, true to the book. So it probably has at least a PG-13 rating."

He said he has worked with cast members from the outset to lay the foundation for the story because he wanted them to know "where they were coming from" when they delivered key elements in the script.

Fortunately, Smith said, his cast includes three young actors who had "wowed us" in previous productions.

"They're not only talented," he said, "but mature enough to handle the content."

Smith said he is aware many people are familiar with the 1962 movie version of the story, which starred Gregory Peck, but he said live performances offer even more.

"Nothing can be compared to being 20 feet from someone pouring out their heart and soul in a character," he said. "There are so many more opportunities to get the goose bumps, to well up in tears."

While the worst of the racial injustice portrayed in the movie has been relegated to history, Smith said racial injustice still exists today as well as discrimination based on race, age and sexual orientation.

If audiences take anything away from the show, Smith said, he hopes it will be the ability to stand in someone's shoes as the character Atticus often suggested.

about Clint Cooper...

Clint Cooper is the faith editor and a staff writer for the Times Free Press Life section. He also has been an assistant sports editor and Metro staff writer for the newspaper. Prior to the merger between the Chattanooga Free Press and Chattanooga Times in 1999, he was sports news editor for the Chattanooga Free Press, where he was in charge of the day-to-day content of the section and the section’s design. Before becoming sports ...

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