Both productions have a curtain time of 7 p.m. and tickets are available for $23 for adults and $15 for students. Call The Ritz Theatre at 256-315-0000 for reservations.
Booking the production was a real coup for The Ritz, and theatre Executive Director George Culver stresses the modern day importance of the Pulitzer Prize winning novel written by Alabama author Harper Lee.
“I can’t even express how excited I am that The Ritz has been able to book ‘To Kill a Mockingbird,’” Culver said. “I have wanted to book this title for years, but there was always a conflict or some reason we could not contract the occasional professional touring production over the last decade. Finally, we’ll have it on The Ritz stage this week.”
Thursday night’s performance will also be translated in American Sign Language.
“Who would not want to see an amazing dramatization of one of the most important literary works of the 20th century, not to mention the most read book in the English language after the Bible,” Culver said.
The cast includes a collection of local attorneys who will serve as jurors for the play’s courtroom scenes. These include Mark Ousley, Dale Price, Huel M. “Kenny” Love, Talladega County District Judge Ryan Rumsey, Will Lawrence, Talladega County District Judge Jeb Fannin and Hank Fannin.
Set in a small Alabama town in 1935, “To Kill a Mockingbird” portrays situations and people who might also be found in the late 1950s and even into the 1960s when Lee wrote and published her novel, as well as in today’s world.
This play, which incorporates much of Lee’s own written dialogue, shows the various roles of the times determined by race, class and gender in this depicted society incorporated through the story of an unjustly charged black man with the rape of a white woman, Culver said.
The story is largely a character study of the integrity of Atticus, the father of Jem and Scout, and a local attorney, who serves as the representative of what is moral and right.
But this is also the story of Scout, Jem’s younger sister, whose loving nature reaches out to the undervalued and sometimes forgotten residents of Maycomb.
And, “Mockingbird” is their story, too.
The play’s characters include Dill, a lonely child, but with sensitivity that gives him an understanding of Atticus before Atticus’ children realize it.
Bob Ewell is a bully, and a murderer, who has been so brutalized by poverty and a caste system that he can assert his manliness only through seizing upon and rallying the racism still found in the town to its bitter end. Women are not politically powerful in Maycomb, but with Maudie’s character, empathy and common sense comfort the children and curb some of the town gossips such as Miss Stephanie.
Scout is the narrator and protagonist of the story.
She lives with her father, Atticus; brother, Jem; and their black cook, Calpurnia. As the story develops, her faith in her fellow man is tested by the hatred and prejudice that emerge during Tom Robinson’s rape trial. As the story unravels, Scout develops a more grown-up perspective that enables her to believe in human goodness, but also not ignore human evils.
Atticus is descended from an old local family. He is a widower and is raising his two children alone. Atticus has instilled in his children his strong sense of morality and justice. He is a rare resident of Maycomb, being committed to racial equality. When he agrees to defend Tom Robinson, he opens himself and his family to the anger of members of the white community who oppose his position. With his strongly held convictions, wisdom and empathy, Atticus functions as the play’s moral strength.
Scout’s brother, Jem, is her constant playmate at the beginning of the story. He is a “typical” American boy, refusing to back down from dares and fantasizing about playing football. The audience sees Jem move into adolescence during the story, and watch as his ideals are shaken badly by the evil and injustice that he perceives during the trial of Tom Robinson.
The characters also include Arthur “Boo” Radley, a town recluse who never goes outside his house, and dominates the lively imaginations of Jem, Scout and Dill. He portrays a strong symbol of goodness that the youngsters perceive with use of their imaginations. Boo is one of the story’s “mockingbirds,” an inherent good person who has also been injured by the evil of mankind.
Bob Ewell is a poor man, and has a standing reputation of being a drunk. He knowingly makes the wrongful accusation that Tom Robinson raped his daughter. Ewell is representative of the dark side of the community and society, translating into ignorance, poverty and hate-filled racial prejudices.
Charles Baker “Dill” Harris is Jem and Scout’s summer neighbor and friend. He becomes captivated with the character of Boo Radley, who lives in the neighborhood, and represents the outlook of childhood innocence throughout the novel and play.
Miss Maudie Atkinson is the Finches’ neighbor, an outspoken widow and an old friend of the family. Miss Maudie is almost the same age as Atticus’s younger brother, Jack. She has Atticus’ passion for justice and is the children’s best friend among Maycomb’s adults.
Calpurnia, the Finch family’s black cook, is a staunch disciplinarian and is a connection for the children’s bridge between the white world and her own black community.
Atticus’s sister, Aunt Alexandria, is a strong-willed woman with a fierce devotion to her family. Being “the perfect Southern lady,” her commitment to the role often leads her to clash with Scout’s independent nature.
Mayella Ewell is Bob Ewell’s abused, lonely, unhappy daughter who joins in the plot against the accused Tom Robinson.
Tom Robinson is a black field hand accused of rape. Tom is another of the story’s “mockingbirds,” and serves as a symbol of innocence eventually destroyed by evil.
Link Deas is Tom Robinson’s employer and is the epitomy of the attitude toward racial justice.
Mrs. Henry Lafayette Dubose is an elderly, ill-tempered, racist woman from the Finch neighborhood.
Nathan Radley is Boo Radley’s older brother. Nathan interferes with Boo’s relationship with the youngsters in the story by cutting off an important element with Jem and Scout when he plugs up the knothole in a tree in which Boo leaves presents for the children to find.
Heck Tate is the sheriff of the town and becomes a major witness at Tom Robinson’s trial.
Mr. Underwood is the publisher of Maycomb’s newspaper who respects Atticus and becomes his ally in the racial and judicial struggle within the community.
Dolphus Raymond is a wealthy white man in the town who lives with his black mistress and their mulatto children. Raymond really just pretends to be a drunk so that the citizens of Maycomb will have an explanation for his chosen lifestyle. In reality, he is affected by the hypocrisy of white society that he perceives and prefers living among blacks.
Walter Cunningham is a poor farmer and part of the mob that wants to hang Tom Robinson. Cunningham eventually shows goodness when Scout’s politeness compels him to get the men at the jail to depart from their task.
Walter Cunningham, the son of Mr. Cunningham and classmate of Scout, can’t afford lunch one day at school and gets Scout in trouble.
Coming in the year of the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights struggles in Birmingham and throughout Alabama, “To Kill a Mockingbird” also asks its audiences to consider what the local culture is like now for each of us in 21st Century Alabama, Culver said.
The historic Virginia Samford Theatre receives funding support from the Alabama State Council on the Arts and from the National Endowment for the Arts in Washington, D.C. It is a member of the National Historic Preservation Trust, The League of Historic American Theatres and ASCAP. “To Kill A Mockingbird” is presented by special arrangement with The Dramatic Publishing Company of Woodstock, Ill.