To Kill A Mockingbird

By Christopher Sergel from the novel by Harper Lee

Directed by Rhonda Schmidt
October 28 to November 13, 2016


Read the Reviews:
Waukesha Freeman, Lake Country NOW, Shepherd Express

Photos:
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Photos By Carroll Studios Of Photography

Volunteer of the Production

Jim Santelle

Sponsored In Part By

WCT projects are supported in part by a grant from the Wisconsin Arts Board with funds from the State of Wisconsin.

Cast 

Phillip Alonge

Boo Radley

Mario Andre

Rev. Sykes

Shannon Blair

Ensemble / Mayella Understudy

Scott Ebbott

Bob Ewell

Alyssa Falvey

Mayella Ewell

Anthony Gotcher

Dill

Nazir Grey

Tom Robinson

Kevin Koehne

Mr. Cunningham

Marge Kurtz

Maudie Atkinson

Charlotte Lindstrom

Jean

Noah Maguire

Nathan Radley

Jim McClure

Judge Taylor

Grace Munson

Scout

Lloyd Munson

Heck Tate

Cheryl Peterson

Calpurnia

Jim Santelle

Mr. Gilmer

Leah Sawnor

Ensemble

Kevin Senebouttarath

Ensemble

Charlene Dadez Siyver

Helen Robinson

Joyce Sponcia

Mrs. Dubose

Deanna Strasse

Ms. Stephanie

Kelly Vance

Atticus Finch

Scott Ziolecki

Jem

Production Staff 

Director

Rhonda Marie Schmidt

Stage Manager

Jennifer Allen

Scenic Designer / Master Carpenter

Michael Talaska

Lighting / Sound Designer

Aaron Schmidt

Costume Designer

Joanne Cunningham

Properties Designer

Susan Zuern

'To Kill A Mockingbird' reminds us of racial road traveled and ahead

Waukesha Civic Theatre cast does fine job with American classic

By JULIE McHALE - TimeOut Theater Critic
November 3, 2016

WAUKESHA - Harper Lee, a friend and neighbor of Truman Capote, enjoyed a one-book success until she recently published her second novel. The Waukesha Public Library has used the classic "To Kill A Mockingbird" as its choice for Waukesha Reads. Now we have a chance to see it enacted by a worthy cast at the Waukesha Civic Theatre. It was a worthwhile endeavor on both counts.

The story is told in retrospect by Scout, the daughter of the widowed lawyer Atticus Finch. We move back and forth between past and present perspectives. The stage is cleverly designed to include several residences in the town of Maycomb, Ala., including the houses of the Finches' and that of Boo Radley, a mysterious, reclusive town resident, and several other townsfolk. When a courthouse is required, the set is easily converted. Set designer Michael Talaska has done his magic again.

Tom Robinson, a black farmhand, has been accused of sexually and physically abusing a 19-year-old white woman, Mayella Ewell. Her father, Bob, has brought the charges, claiming to have come upon the act in progress. Atticus defends Robinson, which in 1935 in Alabama, is a very unpopular thing to do. His children, Scout and Jem, have taken some flack for their father's decision.

Before the trial begins, one gets the flavor of daily life in Maycomb. Atticus's children are being raised by Calpurnia, a black nanny. The neighborhood is populated by the reclusive Radleys and the usual gossips and do-gooders, who are always willing to share their free advice, especially when it comes to children's behavior. Atticus does his best to foster empathy and tolerance in his offspring, which is a tough call in a town where prejudice and self-righteousness prevail.

The trial of Robinson and its aftermath are the most dramatic scenes in the play. The testimonies of Bob Ewell, his daughter Mayella, and the accused Robinson are very well-executed by Scott Ebbott, Alyssa Falvey and Nazir Grey, respectively. The prosecutor, Mr. Gilmer, is also very well-rendered by Jim Santelle.

I liked the cameo performance of Lloyd Munson as Sheriff Heck Tate. The three female neighbors, Maudie Atkinson, Mrs. Dubose and Ms. Stephanie, played by Marge Kurtz, Joyce Sponcia and Deanna Strasse respectively, were also credibly portrayed. Cheryl Peterson is a strong Calpurnia as well.

Scout and Dill were not always easily heard, but Grace Munson and Anthony Gotcher are to be commended for creating very distinctive personalities. Scott Ziolecki as Jem and Charlotte Lindstrom as the older Scout, known by the character's name Jean, were both excellent in their portrayals.

Though Gregory Peck is a tough act to follow, Kelly Vance did a good job as Atticus, the lawyer who stood by his principles at the risk of his own life and that of his children, a very difficult call.

The production, under the direction of Rhonda Marie Schmidt, was moving and inspiring. It reminded us of our troubled history and forces us to assess the progress that has been made as well as the long road ahead.

Growing Up with Scout Finch

Difficult truths in Waukesha Civic Theatre's 'To Kill A Mockingbird'

By Hannah Klapperich-Mueller
Posted: Oct. 31, 2016

To Kill A Mockingbird is a many-layered story, and Waukesha Civic's production pushes the plotline of racism to the forefront. The experience begins with an unusually thorough curtain speech forewarning audiences of the difficult subject matter and derogatory language present in the play. This is followed by a production in which the strongest moments, and those with the most finely wrought tension, are those within the plotline of Tom Robinson's trial, the African American man accused of molesting a white woman.

Rhonda Marie Schmidt's direction keeps the courtroom scene taut, straining through every minute of the struggle between prosecution and defense. Nazir Grey portrays a quiet strength as Tom, in effective contrast with Alyssa Falvey's skittish Mayella Ewell. Couched in moments of quiet from the talented listeners in the ensemble, certain moments stand out, stark and painful in their parallels to today's world. Grey plays the wrenching simplicity of his response to Atticus' questioning about why Tom ran from the Ewell's home: "If you were black, you'd be scared too."

The denizens of Maycomb, Alabama create a lovely texture for the production with charming flashes of life; young Dill and his yoyo, women knitting through the trial. Calpurnia (Cheryl Peterson) provides a welcome moment of hilarity in her tirade against the children for sneaking into the trial without permission, marching them out through the audience and back again. Grace Munson is a clear-voiced, playful Scout who holds the audience's hearts in her hand when she takes Boo Radley's.

At its center, To Kill A Mockingbird remains a story of a young girl learning about the world with kindness in the face of ignorance and cruelty, a young girl who invites the audience to grow in wisdom as she does.

Review Title

By Marilyn Jozwik - Lake COuntry NOW Theater Critic
November 4, 2016

The year is 1935 and the place is Macomb, Georgia. It's the setting for "To Kill a Mockingbird."

Although this was several generations ago, the theme of justice in the play, based on Harper Lee's classic novel, resonates today.

That's why the book was such a good choice for this year's Waukesha Reads initiative, and the play for Waukesha Civic Theatre's fall production.

The story is unique in that the trial of a black man, accused of raping a white woman, is assessed through the eyes of three youngsters, including Scout (Grace Munson) and Jem (Scott Ziolecki) Finch, whose father Atticus (Vance Kelly) is the lawyer defending the black man. The third youngster is Dill (Anthony Gotcher), a friend of theirs.

Not aware of the prevailing attitudes of blacks by whites of the time, or the Southern social code, the children have no filter through which to view the accused Tom Robinson. Says Dill of Mr. Gilmer (Jim Santelle), the prosecuting attorney, after his harsh questioning of Robinson, "He didn't have to sneer and call him 'boy.'"

Rhonda Marie Schmidt directed this faithful rendition with a fine cast, and several notable performances.

The story opens with Scout as an adult (Charlotte Lindstrom) narrating what was happening in her town during the time her father was preparing for Robinson's trial. She observes that people are in no hurry in 1935, since they "have nowhere to go."

We see three nosy neighbors (Deanna Strasse, Joyce Sponcia and Marge Kurtz), who opinionate frequently on the state of Atticus and his motherless children, as well as that of their own cloistered society.

Also living nearby are the Radley brothers, one of them the recluse Boo Radley (Phillip Alonge), subject of much gossip. Their home is considered off limits, yet Scout, in her youthful innocence, pays frequent visits to an old, dead tree on the Radley property with a knothole at her eye level where she regularly finds treats.

The children realize the gravity of the trial through Atticus and his seriousness, as well as talk around town. When Atticus learns that a lynch mob is coming for Robinson, he sets up an evening vigil outside the jail. Scout, Jem and Dill sneak away to see what Atticus is doing. When the mob arrives, Scout speaks directly to one of the men in the group, Mr. Cunningham (Kevin Koehne), the father of a schoolmate of hers. Her honesty somehow touches him and he and his cohorts disperse.

The children are cared for by Calpurnia (Cheryl Peterson), who fusses about them like a mother hen. Peterson's rage at her young charges' stealing off to town to watch their father in court drew applause from the opening night audience as she stomped through the aisles of the theater giving them all an earful.

The second act is mostly the trial of Robinson and here is where this version of "Mockingbird" really excels. As Mayella, who has accused Robinson of rape, Alyssa Falvey is perfect. Her discomfort is palpable as she sits hunched over – as if wanting to return to the shelter of the womb – in the witness chair, twitching and fumbling with fear, more of her own father than of the law.

As her father, Scott Ebbott is also effective on the witness stand, showing his indignation at Finch's interrogation, which he thinks is meant to trick him, with angry outbursts and gestures.

Nazir Grey's Robinson also is wonderfully portrayed as the actor tells his character's side of the story with quiet certitude. When Atticus asks him why he ran from the scene, Robinson says with earnestness, "Mr. Finch, if you were black like me, you'd be scared too."

Kelly's Atticus is mesmerizing as he carefully carves his questions and gives a stirring closing argument. His scenes with the children show his character's tenderness, yet belief that his children can be talked to like adults.

And the children are all up to the task in this classic tale. Munson's Scout displays all the qualities you'd expect from her character – she's feisty, curious, untainted by prejudice. Ziolecki's big brother Jem is also nicely rendered, as is Gotcher's Dill, though the latter could have enunciated a bit more.

The scene in which Scout, without the slightest hesitation, takes Boo's hand and leads him home is filled with emotion as we understand the beauty of a child's pure perspective and trust, unsullied by hate.

Michael Talaska's set is substantial, but four homes really made for tight quarters on stage. To stretch the space, many scenes had actors using the theater aisles, which seemed a good idea yet somewhat bogged down those scenes. The neighborhood nicely transformed to the courtroom, with the children and others occupying a balcony.

"Mockingbird" will always have a place in a world that can't see kindness and fairness with a child's clarity. WCT does justice to this timeless tale with some timely messages.

Student rate is available for children and any patron with a current student ID. Senior rate applies to all patrons 60 years or older. Military rate is available for any patron with a valid current Military ID.

For our "Pay What You Can" performances, patrons can buy tickets for that show on the day of the performance at whatever price their budget will allow.

Subscriber rate is available to any subscriber for unlimited additional tickets outside their package.

10 ticket minimum per performance required.

Educational Group Rate is only available for all educational groups and Boy and Girl Scout troops. 10 ticket minimum per performance required.

Volunteer of the Production - Jim Santelle

Jim was a kind and enthusiastic member of the cast. He was always quick to volunteer throughout rehearsals for whatever was needed. He was generous, thoughtful, and full of praise for his fellow actors and crew members.

Also … Jim brought food. Lots of it!

Thank you, Jim!