American Classic Enlivens Stage in Mammoth Lakes



Harper Lee’s Pulitzer Prize winning novel, To Kill a Mockingbird, is taught in classrooms around the world and is without a doubt the most widely read book dealing with racial injustice in America.  In 1962, Robert Mulligan adapted the book into an Oscar winning film in which Gregory Peck emblazoned the character of Atticus Finch onto popular culture.  Long story short, To Kill a Mockingbird is a timeless American classic.  And taking on a classic is not an easy task.

Reading the novel and seeing the film were both significant moments in my own childhood. These brilliant works of art helped me to develop a moral compass and taught me valuable and brutal lessons about the world I lived in and the nature of man. So when I learned that the Mammoth Lakes Repertory Theatre was to make T.K.A.M. their fall production, I became excited… and then I began to worry. I mean how could Christopher Sergel’s play adaptation possibly live up to its iconic predecessors?  So needless to say that when I walked into the Edison Theatre on October 10th I was expecting to be disappointed.  I will say that I felt a great deal of emotions while watching this play Thursday night, I can assure you that disappointment was not one of them.

What director Shira Dubrovner, the stage crew, and this ensemble cast accomplish on that stage is nothing short of spectacular. What struck me first was the incredible use of space.  If you have ever been to the Edison Theatre then you know that it is relatively small in size.  However, this cozy theatre has been fantastically transformed into the small town of Maycomb, Alabama circa 1935. This tiny stage became a quaint neighborhood with five houses, downtown Maycomb, and a crowded courtroom all at once.  And speaking of crowded, this cast includes twenty actors with some cast members playing multiple roles. While the opening night jitters were apparent and a few lines were flubbed I was more than pleased with the vast majority of the performances.

Jamie Peabody, in the lead role, captures the spirit of Scout and delivers in impressive fashion. The interaction between her, Jem (Tanner Van Tassell), and the precocious young Dill, played by Devin Crume, carry the play and deliver quite a few unexpected laughs. While Ted Carleton, who plays Atticus Finch, is no Gregory Peck his powerful stage presence fills those shoes better then I ever could have imagined. Millena Gay’s performance as the Finch’s housekeeper, Calpurnia, was so strong that it elicited applause from the audience more than once and you can see why she was brought up from Los Angeles for this role. I have seen Juliana Olinka in a number of plays at the Edison. Juliana never disappoints and was literally unrecognizable as old Mrs. Dubose. Also worth mentioning is new comer Gary Walker’s comically repugnant Bob Ewell and Michael Dostrow’s strong, however despicable, performance as Mr. Gilmer.

Shira Dubrovner directs this enormous cast masterfully and pays tribute to a great American story. When I asked Shira how she thought opening night went she responded by saying that, “It was amazing. Everyone pulled together and it was awesome.” That is putting it lightly because in this stage adaptation of “To Kill a Mockingbird,” Dubrovner somehow manages to transport the audience to a different era to deliver messages that are timeless. I highly recommend reading the novel, seeing the film, and going to see this play. You can catch this play at the Edison Theatre in Mammoth Lakes Thursday-Saturday at 7pm and on Sundays at 4pm until October 27th. Tickets are $20/$18/$10 and if you would like some more information make sure to check out www.

31 Responses to American Classic Enlivens Stage in Mammoth Lakes

  1. Chuck Schneider October 15, 2013 at 10:48 am #

    I was delighted to get the role of Judge Taylor in the play, not just for the role, but I feel the play still has an important message today. After speaking with the black actors in the play I was reassured that there is still a problem. I think the statement above that the KKK is still pervasive in the Owens Valley is a bit of a stretch, but there are certainly pockets of prejudice in this “enlightened” and “tolerant” world where we live. Every middle school student on up should read the book, see the movie, or see the play. I think the message is brought home in the closing lines of the play where Scout talks to her dad after meeting the recluse, Boo Radley. “Scout: All those ideas we had about Boo Radley …But, Atticus – he’s real nice. Atticus: Most people are, Scout – when you finally see them.”

  2. Dee Younger October 14, 2013 at 8:39 pm #

    Or when you use an anonymous name to hide behind.

    • RandyK October 15, 2013 at 10:32 am #

      Oh Dee. Don’t be so hard on those of us who use anonymous names. Our assumed identities put the emphasis on the content of the message rather than the person making it. It lets some of us be freer and more creative with our opinions than might otherwise be possible. Everything need not be the official statement by an identifiable person, which are often staid and boring, but admittedly carry more weight. Anonymity is only bad when you use it to be cruel.

      • Dee Younger October 15, 2013 at 12:59 pm #

        Thanks Mr Keller. But your last sentence “Anonymity is only bad when you use it to be cruel” is exactly my point.

        • RandyK October 16, 2013 at 11:19 am #

          RandyK is a made up internet person. He only shares a brain with somebody else. Nobody knows who RandyK really is unless RandyK tells them.

          • Dee Younger October 16, 2013 at 3:39 pm #

            Got it.

      • Racism and Politics October 16, 2013 at 12:34 pm #

        With some of our extremely aggressive and passionately confrontational types today, they become the most cruel when you present factual comments they cannot dispute. Ie., racist comments from their leaders such as Limbaugh and Coulter. Then watch their heads go into the sand.

    • Mongo The Idiot October 15, 2013 at 1:17 pm #

      Anon internet names are superficially anonymous. Every time I post, my ip number is revealed to the WP administrator for this site. Also, there are on line tools that reveal my ip to outside users. Once the IP is known then it can be searched and cross referenced to other posts such as Craigslist and anon email accounts.
      The internet is not anonymous.

    • Exposing racism in America October 16, 2013 at 5:34 am #

      This anonymous thingy is the usual response from a person who instead of providing factual information re: the posting they don’t like or can reasonably disagree with.

      ie., “Have you ever noticed how all composite pictures of wanted criminals resemble Jesse Jackson?”

      “Look, let me put it to you this way: the NFL all too often looks like a game between the Bloods and the Crips without any weapons. There, I said it.”

      “The NAACP should have riot rehearsal. They should get a liquor store and practice robberies.”

      [To an African American female caller]: “Take that bone out of your nose and call me back.”

      The nasty racist slurs above come from the nasty mouth of neoconservative hero Rush Limbaugh. When this racism is pointed out to our neocon posters they have trouble being exposed for the racists they are and have no other method of response than to try and discredit the information presented by whining about the anonymous things

      • Racism in America October 16, 2013 at 10:11 am #

        Here’s a warm and fuzzy comment from another Right is Right personality, Ann Coulter:

        “A typical Democrat is a fat, black woman on welfare.”

        And of course, this is not considered racist to Coulter’s I-Hate-Liberals fans. It’s viewed as just clean fun.

        • Wayne Deja October 16, 2013 at 1:34 pm #

          And to why their party keeps losing the elections….even when the Republicans try to go the high road they make fools of themselves and shoot themselves in the foot….good examples…..John McCain,not only for what he was saying,but “his choice” for Vice President more or less cemented it for the Dems…..and then,four years later,Mitt Romney….with all the flip-flop he had going on….and then the infamous “48% comment” made just before the election…..truly a party of angry,racist losers.

          • WASP America October 16, 2013 at 3:27 pm #

            The GOP is desperately trying to distance itself from the extremists that are making them all look bad. And race is buried not so deeply within their conservative White Anglo-Saxon Protestant BS.
            This will eventually cause a problem as the GOP is realizing they will never win another election until they can appeal to the little guy – the majority of the voting population. We can only hope that the checks and balances thing does not disappear altogether.
            Meanwhile, Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Ann Coulter and Glenn Beck are laughing their asses off all the way to the bank.

          • Not married to any party October 16, 2013 at 3:49 pm #

            If the GOP can come up with someone I can support – I’ll vote for them.
            But until then, a Palin/Bachmann/Paul/??? team simply does nothing for me whatsoever.

        • Destroying the government October 16, 2013 at 4:55 pm #

          There is a group of people that are so afraid of change, and they’re so narrow-minded that some people — when they see change coming — get so threatened by change, they get angry and they get terrorized, and then they get vicious. I think that’s who these people are. They’re so afraid of change that they’re behaving miserably.

          Obama is a compassionate man who can’t function in this political environment, It is so decrepit, it is so paralyzed, and the worst of it is it is paralyzed by intention. There is a body of congressional people that wants to paralyze the system. I think what sits underneath it, unfortunately, is there’s probably some racism involved, which is really awful.

          Obama’s opponents reject whatever he might propose because their determination was to destroy this person. They wanted, if it meant destroying the government, anything to keep him from succeeding.

          Obama’s opponents reject whatever he might propose “because their determination was to destroy this person,” Redford said. “They wanted, if it meant destroying the government, anything to keep him from succeeding.

          “I think just the idea of giving credit to this President, giving him credit for anything, is abhorrent to them, so they’ll go against it. Never mind that it’s the better good of the people, never mind that they’re supposed to be in office representing the interest of the public. They’re representing their own self-interests, which is very narrow and in some cases bigoted.”

  3. Elvis October 14, 2013 at 6:07 pm #

    Yes, the KKKlan is still pervasive in the Ovens Valley Not Good 🙁

    • Benett Kessler October 14, 2013 at 7:20 pm #

      Are you sure? I thought we shamed those guys out of existence. I know they were active when I first started covering news back in 1976.
      If you have to cover your face when you do things, something is wrong.
      Benett Kessler

      • American History X October 15, 2013 at 7:35 pm #

        Maybe drove them elsewhere, underground, other groups, being lone promoters, a few redemptions. Xenophobia is alive and well.

  4. We the People October 14, 2013 at 1:27 pm #

    This play is very timely in that it addresses the evil in racial hatred that exists in America today. In some places the Civil War is still being fought. Though many would never openly admit it, many Americans are still angry that a black man was elected president.

    • Big Rick OBrien October 14, 2013 at 7:19 pm #

      I’m sure there are plenty of African-Americans that are ALSO angry that a black man was elected President.

      • Pedro October 15, 2013 at 10:44 pm #

        Do explain. I’ve never met one white person that was angry that a president was white.

        • Trouble October 16, 2013 at 6:21 am #

          I talk trash about all of our Presidents. All races also. And I really enjoy doing so. So, I will continue.

    • Pedro October 14, 2013 at 7:29 pm #

      Maybe you don’t get out much, but I’ve overheard a few comments in public in the Eastern Sierra. One being, “If we can just get the Nigger out of office.”

      My shame is not in what they said, but in that I did not tell them to watch their mouth around me.

      • We the People October 15, 2013 at 5:30 am #

        You hit the nasty nail on the nasty head, Pedro. The racism in America today is as high as it was during the Civil War era where brothers were killing brothers.
        Kudos to every single community that presents “Mockingbird” today. A stark reminder of how racism still exists in our very own community.

        “Take that bone out of your nose and call me back!”
        – Rush Limbaugh to a black caller discussing affordable health care.

        This is the sort of “politics” that is cherished today by the multitudes that tune in to the Bloated Bigot’s show 3 straight hours a day, 5 days a week and reruns on weekends.

        • My Favorite Rush October 16, 2013 at 10:42 pm #

          –Rush Limbaugh TV show (12/8/92)
          When you strip it all away, Jerry Garcia destroyed his life on drugs. And yet he’s being honored, like some godlike figure. Our priorities are out of whack, folks.

        • Exposing themselves October 17, 2013 at 11:02 am #

          And the saddest part is that so many of our fellow Americans do not view one of their leaders and spokespersons (Rush Limbaugh) comments as racist.
          And there is your true dividing line in America. But as these nasty, angry types continue to expose themselves for the racist slime that they are, the easier it becomes for others to distance themselves from them.
          We can all breathe easier. These terrible people will never come into national power.

      • Mark October 15, 2013 at 9:41 am #

        “watch their mouth around me.”

        Sounds like a challange to me Pedro, there are those who would take you up on that.

        Normally If I don’t like what I’m hearing I remove myself from the area or change the channel.

        • Pedro October 15, 2013 at 7:13 pm #

          Of course it’s a challenge. Or a counter challenge. I wasn’t eavesdropping. When someone sharing a public space with me says something offensive they know I can hear, why should I always walk away? Better people than I have been beaten standing up for my human dignity, and there are times for me to risk the beating and do the same for them.

        • Mark October 17, 2013 at 10:28 am #

          Sticks and stones…

          Words will never hurt me

          In one ear, out the other

          • Pedro October 17, 2013 at 6:21 pm #

            .Ask someone who lived on the wrong side of Jim Crow laws if those words hurt them.

      • Wayne Deja October 16, 2013 at 1:41 pm #

        Pedro….same here…one time walked into a local store and heard a couple angry,old men at 5 A.M. saying more or less the same thing about the President….I didn’t confront them on what they said,but my conversation with the cashier,well within earshot of the two that were saying it more or less let them know what a couple of old fools they were…but they probably already knew that.And finding out later they did indeed hear what I had said about them made my day.


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