Mockingbird Flies Into La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts E-mail
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Entertainment & Arts
Written by Sandra Green   

If you are one of the many who pre-ordered and read last year’s “Go Set a Watchman”  last summer, you may have distaste for me merely bringing up the subject.

That release of Harper Lee's possible first draft or possible sequel to the beloved and Pulitzer- prize winning novel, “To Kill a Mockingird”, was not met by all with open arms.  Some (like me) refused to read it-- us librarians tend to be finicky on literary integrity and sources.

It is true what the author Neil Gaiman has put so eloquently:  "Google will bring you back 100,000 answers, a librarian will bring you back the right one."  So how is this librarian to determine if Watchman was a sequel to Mockingbird?  Was the book never meant for publishing in the first place?  Or is it better to just pretend that Watchman was never released and focus on Lee's beautiful masterpiece To Kill a Mockingbird?  I prefer the latter.

For me, I first read Mockingbird in ninth grade.  Soon to follow was me partaking of the film version.  In case you have never seen the film, you'll catch a glimpse of a young Robert Duvall and a not-to-be-missed Gregory Peck.  The film (released in 1962 by Universal) could not have been more poignant for a country at a turning point.  The Civil Rights Act was on the table amongst our country's law makers.  Dr. King was a household name for the non-violent protest movement.  JFK was in the White House.   I fell in love with the book.  I fell in love with the film.  To Kill a Mockingbird is a story that transcends time.

Now, in 2016, Phantom Projects takes on the stage version of To Kill a Mockingbird.  Steve Cisneros, the producing artistic director of Phantom (and a La Mirada native) follows up on a phenomenal performance of “Number the Stars” with Lee's Mockingbird.

Taking stage for ONE DAY ONLY (shows at 10:00 a.m. (SOLD OUT), 1:00 p.m. (SOLD OUT), and 7:00 p.m. on Thursday, February 18th); I encourage you not to miss out.

Cisneros’ goal, to bring to stage performances that tackle topics for teens, is a one of a kind mission; Phantom Projects is unlike any other theatre troop you'll find nationwide.  Each season, two performances are based on literary pieces (previously presented were Lois Lowry's The Giver, S.E. Hinton's The Outsiders, and Christopher Paul Curtis' The Watsons Go to Birmingham).  The third upcoming show of the current season, "Center of the Universe” was written by co-founder Bruce Gevirtzman and shows April 21st. Concluding the season with the fourth show is "The Young Artist's Project" on August 6th, wherein a cast is given only 14 days upon meeting to put together their best performance.

To Kill a Mockingbird is a story set in 1930's Maycomb County, Alabama.  Atticus Finch, a widowed lawyer, is left to raise his two children- inquisitive Jem and tom-boy Scout.  Jem and Scout are set on finding creative ways to lure the neighborhood recluse, Boo Radley, out of his home, their imaginations run wild in true childlike innocence.  When Atticus takes on a case of defending a young African American man, Tom Robinson, accused of raped, a lesson in race relations in the Jim Crowe south unfolds and Jem and Scout discover their fathers shoes are not easy to fill. 

Remember, Harper Lee's Mockingbird was released in the early 1960's, a time that could only be better than if it were released in present day.  If you are curious of the timing of this stage performance, take heed that Cisneros chose this piece about two years ago yet the timing couldn't be better to bring this book to life.

From previous performances by Phantom Projects, you will not be disappointed.  As an admitted bibliophile, one cannot help but be critical as to when a book comes to life--- worrying about what is left out and executed can be crucial and change a film or performance all together (enter Michael Ondaatje's The English Patient-- book vs. film, frowning look here).  Phantom Projects will not disappoint. The beauty of their mission-- to deliver strong, meaningful messages via stage aimed at pre-teen/teen audiences to adult-- is a testament of the love of art for Cisneros and company.

To Kill a Mockingbird stars Sammy Gayer (Mc Coy Rigby's Les Meserable and Billy Elliott) as Scout Finch and Lane Wray as Atticus. Also starring Jacob Brewer, Jason Brewer, Carla E. Mitchell, Jill Czarnowski, Stephanie Schulz, Sue Rausch, Adam Chacon, John Lunsford, Donald Amerson, Tim Bob Halpen, Jacqueline Elyse Rosenthal, Mike Tracy, James Duffy, Joshua Warren Bush, DJ Perkins, Jack Stroud, and Michael L. Felder.  Directed by Timothy P. Thorn.  Adaptation by Christopher Sergel.

Tickets for To Kill a Mockingbird may be purchased at the La Mirada Performing Arts Center Box Office or online here. Ticket prices from $8-$25.

 
 

 

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