Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Rehearsing without Principals!

Tuesday night — The cast of the Sugar Creek Players' production of To Kill a Mockingbird has been the dictionary definition of flexible. Take Tuesday night: I had scheduled the courtroom scene to run all the way through twice. Problem was, we were missing our defense attorney, prosecuting attorney, and our defendant!

No worries. Jerry Bowie and Matt Clark took over as Atticus Finch, the former in yet another slightly ironic performance! Alex Livengood stepped in as Mr. Gilmer and was terrific as he guided his witnesses through their testimony.

With spring break on the horizon, we're gearing up to do a lot of pinch-hitting for one another. Fortunately, we are — if anything — a flexible bunch.
The Ewells: Mayella (Alli Aldrich) and Bob (Stephen Morillo)

Sheriff Heck Tate (Matt Mayberry) listens to Mayella Ewell (Alli Aldrich)

Building Momentum

Tuesday morning — Sunday night's rehearsal was by far the best we've had to date, and our vision for the Sugar Creek Players' production of To Kill a Mockingbird is starting to come together.

On Sunday, we ran the entire first act with virtually no interruption. Considering it was the first time we had put the 10 scenes together, I was thrilled with the pace and performance.

Now that the set pieces are largely complete, we're focusing our attention on getting actors off-book. Many already know their lines, many are close, and a few who have lines in almost every scene are within a few days of having their lines down.

Our production has received two grants with the hope of at least one more. (News on these coming later in the week.) We'll use grant money to further our educational outreach efforts with local schools. Our hope is to go into local middle and high schools to talk about the play, how it differs from the book, and how we as a cast have worked through issues like racism, sexism, class differences, not to mention the language. Grant money will allow us to either provide free or greatly discounted tickets to students whose classes have studied the book. We sent out a mass invitation to more than 20 local teachers of English, literature, social studies, and drama. Spread the word — if you know teachers who might be interested in bringing classes to our play and/or having us come into their classes to talk about it, have them contact the director.

A quick note on some of our symbols. Our show's logo makes use of a large, silhouetted tree with a lone mockingbird flying off. For us, the dying tree symbolizes the old attitudes of Maycomb. Scout says to Miss Maudie, "Maycomb is an old town, isn't it?" We like to think that the racism and sexism that for so long defined the town are beginning to die, and that people like Atticus, Scout, and Miss Maudie represent the town's future.

For us, that lone mockingbird could be Atticus, for he alone has been chosen to "do our unpleasant" business, as Maudie says. Perhaps the mockingbird is Tom Robinson, who sits alone in a jail cell waiting for a trial he knows he will lose. Maybe the mockingbird is sad, old, Mrs. Dubose who suffers her addiction alone. Dill feels very much alone, "I'm little, but I'm old," he says of himself, while telling his friends that his parents aren't mean, but they don't have much interest in him. The obvious mockingbird is Boo Radley, shut up in his house and kept largely in solitude. And as Harper Lee tells us, "It's a sin to kill a mockingbird."

Our production will also incorporate the state flag of Alabama, with its large red X running through its length. The basic structure is the same as the flag of the Confederacy. The flag will be larger and far more prominent than even the American flag in our Maycomb courtroom, signifying Alabama's independence. And while not fully intentional, we think that large red X works like a target on Tom Robinson's back — as he gets shot from behind 17 times.

Eighteen days until opening night!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Anybody See This?

We're in good company in this photo of a library, the facade of which features the great books of all time — including To Kill a Mockingbird!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Pictures from March 22

It occurred to me early this morning that when our cast is all together again this Sunday, we'll be exactly 20 days away from opening night. We're making progress, but we've got a long way to go. Some actors are off book and others are close. The set continues to come together and by Sunday, we should be pretty close to having all of the pieces assembled -- if not finished!

Plan now to get tickets for the Sugar Creek Players' production of To Kill a Mockingbird. Tickets go on sale Monday, April 11 and the play runs consecutive weekends — April 15-17 and April 21-23.

Damon Lincourt and Matt Mayberry

Jill Rogers and Heather Olin

Sammie Amidon, Damon Lincourt, Trey Rogers

Niki Hutson

Sammie Amidon and Conner Smith

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Meet the Cast: Part 4

As we wrap up our first full week of rehearsals — and blocking the play — I'm pleased to wrap up cast introductions for the Sugar Creek Players' production of To Kill a Mockingbird.

Reverend Sykes: The good Reverend Sykes is played by Jerry Bowie, who will make his stage debut in Mockingbird. Jerry has served on the Board of Directors of the Sugar Creek Players for the last three years, and a year ago co-produced the Vanity Theater's amazing production of The Women. By day, Jerry works at Wabash College, where he wears many hats as the coordinator of activities for the Center of Academic Enrichment. He also has a strange habit of wearing a new hat every time he visits the Vanity Theater's costume or prop rooms, but that's a whole other story. In addition to playing Reverend Sykes, Jerry is co-producing Mockingbird with Nancy Rodenbeck.

Helen Robinson: The young woman playing Helen Robinson in our production is Crawfordsville High School student Rebekah Kirts. She's very busy as a member of the award-winning Blue Illusions Dance Team, and has appeared in Peter Pan and The Best Christmas Pageant Ever. We're very excited to welcome her to our cast, fresh off a national dance competition.

Calpurnia: This important role in Mockingbird will be played by Debbie Reed, who will make her acting debut in the show. Recently married, she answered the call to come read for the part, and we immediately liked what she brought to the stage. Her poise, posture, and pace under the lights were all impressive, especially considering that when she read for the part, she was literally standing on a stage for the very first time. We're excited to watch her develop throughout our production.

Court Clerk and "Big Man": It was a no-brainer to cast mighty Rick James in the part of the "Big Man' in the lynch mob, which tries to storm past Atticus Finch to lynch Tom Robinson on the eve of his trial. In addition to that role, Rick will also swear in all of the witnesses in the riveting courtroom scene. Rick has a fine acting background and tells us that he was in the second play ever performed at the Vanity back in the late 1980s, and returned last month for The Wizard of Oz. While living in Jackson County, he was also involved in community theater, including roles in Dracula, Rainmaker, Spirit, Our Town, and a few others. Rick brings a warm heart and kind spirit to our cast.

Lynch Mob Member and Taunting Boy: Matthew Clark might just have the most Vanity acting credits of any actor in our cast of Mockingbird. While only 16, Matthew has been a part of 14 Vanity productions and acted in seven. Normally, he works backstage, in the light booth, or where ever he might be needed. This director would love to have a dozen actors like Matthew — willing to do anything to make a show successful. 

Link Deas and Lynch Mob Member: Mahlon Nevitt is a 17-year-old, North Montgomery High School junior who appears to have gotten the acting bug in the super-successful production of The Wizard of Oz. In Mockingbird, Mahlon will play a dual role — as Link Deas in our courtroom scene and as another of the angry lynch mob members. We're excited to have him in the show.

Maycomb Citizens: Two lovely women agreed to join our production as citizens of Maycomb, Alabama, who stroll on stage and appear in our courtroom scenes — Barbara Walden and Sharyn Adams. We love having Barb in the cast because of her good humor. At some point well into her senior years, Barb decided to begin acting with the Sugar Creek Players. Her credits include Music Man, The Women, Arsenic and Old Lace, It's a Wonderful Life, and — as a swinging grandma — The Wedding Singer. Also starring is Sharyn Adams, a nurse in real life, who has an impressive acting resume that includes It's a Wonderful Life, Oklahoma, The Sound of Music, and Music Man.

Reggie Steele, a Wabash College student, was simply thrilled to be a part of To Kill a Mockingbird. He will play a Negro citizen of Maycomb, but throughout rehearsals, he's stepped up to do what ever we've asked him to do. And that comes as no surprise because he's one of the most active students on the Wabash campus, and is the chairman of the College's Malcolm X Institute of Black Studies. He last appeared on the Vanity Theater stage in The Wedding Singer. He's also a talented musician and singer, and has agreed to work with us on music for our show.

Stage Manager and Co-Producer: I would be remiss if I didn't also introduce co-producer Nancy Rodenbeck, who brings a wealth of experience to this production. Nancy has impressive Vanity Theater directing credits, which include excellent productions of Tom Sawyer, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, and The Somewhat True Tale of Robin Hood, as well as scores of church and home-school productions. She's been acting since she could walk, but I especially enjoyed her in last year's SCP production of The Women. As the former Managing Director of the Vanity Theater, she answers most of my questions before I can ask them. Nancy will also serve as our Stage Manager.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Meet the Cast: Part 3

Greetings from Crawfordsville as we march forward toward the opening night of the Sugar Creek Players' production of To Kill a Mockingbird. We spent most of last weekend working on various set pieces and stage elements, which is a slow process in a large building with limited stage space and an even smaller budget. But the pieces are coming together and we've had good rehearsals on Sunday and Monday.

Tonight, we'll work through the scene involving "Tim" — the rabid dog who ambles through Maycomb until "Dead Eye"Atticus takes him out.

Continuing in our effort to meet the cast of our production, I'm pleased to introduce a few more of our talented actors:

Walter Cunningham: This poor farmer is indebted to Atticus for doing some legal work for him, and has no money to pay him. He resorts to sharing nuts, kindling wood, and even turnip greens to cover his debt. I like this character very much because he's upright in that he takes no "relief checks" from the government and he works hard. Later, though, he's part of a mob ready to lynch Tom Robinson — until young Scout reminds him how human he really is and convinces to walk around in Tom's skin. When Bill Hepburn, a long-time SCP Board member and dedicated volunteer, stepped on stage, it was hard for me to picture him as anyone other than Walter. Bill is physically a big man with strong hands, broad shoulders, a good back, and a nice voice. He graciously accepted the part and will return to the stage where he's previously had roles in Deadwood Dick, State Fair, and Love Thy Neighbor. Bill's family is connected to the Vanity Theater in every way possible, and all of Lois and Bill's kids have been raised on local theater stages.

Bob Ewell: We had many good actors read for this role and I liked several of them for very different reasons. When Stephen Morillo, a Wabash College History Professor, took the stage, we saw something behind the goatee that caught our attention. How cool would it be, we thought, to have a Rhodes Scholar and Oxford-educated man play the perfectly disreputable Bob Ewell? Well, very cool, actually. Stephen is a prolific textbook writer, international expert on military history, a musician, artist, father, and a very fine teacher. He tells us he acted in "stuff last century," but we remember him in the Wabash production of the very creepy, haunting play, Pillowman, a couple of years ago. And we figure that as a teacher of bright and talented Wabash guys, he probably has to do a good bit of acting in class every day. We're glad to have Stephen in our show.

Mayella Ewell: This was the second toughest choice I made when casting the play. The character of Mayella is complicated. She's the oldest in a large and motherless family, and she is abused by her father. Her home is near a dump and Harper Lee describes it in stirring detail in the book (early in courtroom section). Lee tells us the only bright light in Mayella's life is the gleaming red of her potted geraniums that surround the Ewell home. So desperate is she that Mayella saves nickels for an entire year to get her siblings out of the house so that she might share her first kiss — with Tom Robinson. We wanted an actress with a strong appearance — to have managed the heavy labor of her daily life — but with the mind of a child being manipulated by her father. We're pleased that Alli Aldrich accepted the role, for we think she brings all of those qualities to the stage. She has appeared in the last two plays produced by the Sugar Creek Players — as the Ghosts of Christmas Past and Future in A Christmas Carol and as an Ozian in The Wizard of Oz. A student at Ivy Tech, she performed extensively at Southmont High School and was a five-year member of Southmont's show choir, Panache.

Nathan Radley: The elder Radley, Nathan, is played by Alex Livengood. While Alex has a pretty small role in our play, no person has been more eager or excited to be a part of the cast than Alex — almost always the first or second person to rehearsal and always fun to be around. Alex's acting credits come almost exclusively from high school, when he performed in six plays in addition to skits as a 4-H member. Alex will also play in our lynch mob scene.

Arthur "Boo" Radley: The role made famous by Robert Duvall, Boo Radley has only a couple of lines, but he is clearly near the center of the story — from the children trying to coax him out his house to the final scenes when he rescues Scout and Jem from murderous Bob Ewell. While Harper Lee gives us plenty of examples to highlight her theme of "walking around in someone else's skin" — Dubose, Cunningham, Robinson, even Ewell — Boo is the mockingbird we shall not kill. Our Boo is played by Clayton Mikesell, a freshman at Wabash College. He's a member of the College's Glee Club, and previously appeared in Arsenic and Old Lace. He was also in high school musicals ranging from The Sound of Music to Jesus Christ Superstar.

Tom Robinson: Brock Peters put a mighty big stamp on this role when he played the part of Tom Robinson in the Academy Award-winning film. His is one of the finest screen performances I've seen from that era. We had three very good actors audition for this part, and two were so good I decided to double cast the part, which is not something I had planned to do going into auditions. So two young men, both Wabash College students, will share the part — each playing Tom for one weekend run of the show, and on the opposite weekends, the actors will play another part. DeVan Taylor is a Wabash sophomore from Indianapolis, who previously worked with the College's production of The Bacchae. At Brebeuf Jesuit High School, DeVan appeared in Teach Me How to Cry, Murder's in the Air, High School Musical, and Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dream Coat, among others. Our other Tom Robinson is Wabash freshman Larry Savoy, who hails from Missouri City, Texas. Larry is a member of the Wabash Glee Club and is fresh off a spring tour — and performing three concerts this week! In high school, he was in the cast of Grease, The Shadow Box, and Chicago, to name a few.

That's it for now. We'll introduce the remainder of our cast in the next few days.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Meet the Cast: Part 2

We want to continue to introduce various members of the cast of the Sugar Creek Players' production of To Kill a Mockingbird. Yesterday, we spent a little time introducing the Finch family — and sidekick Dill. Today, we're pleased to introduce some of the "movers and shakers" of Maycomb, Alabama, circa 1935.

Mr. Gilmer: Our Maycomb prosecuting attorney is Art Lang, who brings a wealth of experience to the stage. Over the last decade, he's been an actor, director, and stage manager for the Sugar Creek Players, Lafayette Civic Theater, and the Purdue Experimental Theater. He's the only member of our cast who has appeared in an earlier production of To Kill a Mockingbird. He played Walter Cunningham and Judge Taylor in the Lafayette Civic Theater production in the mid-1990s. During Monday's read-through, he gave the director chills when he cross examined Tom Robinson.

Heck Tate: If you've never seen the movie or can block it out of your mind, when you read the script for To Kill a Mockingbird, you begin to imagine the perfect Maycomb sheriff. Maybe he's a strong, rugged southerner, or maybe he's a slightly built guy who leads with his badge and gun. But we knew we had the perfect Heck Tate moments after Matt Mayberry read for the part. We read him for a number of roles after that, but we kept coming back to his take on Heck Tate. Matt has no Vanity Theater credits on his resume, other than shuttling his children to and and from the theater. All of us behind the scenes had hoped we would discover some new talent when we staged Mockingbird, and Matt is a picture-perfect example.

Judge Taylor: Crawfordsville natives who have been around the Sugar Creek Players for a few decades will be pleased to know that Stu Weliever has come out of retirement and will return to the Vanity Theater stage as Judge Taylor. Stu is one of the few members of our cast and crew who can recall when the Sugar Creek Players staged productions at Wabash College — back before the historic building at 122 South Washington Street was gifted to the theater company. Stu knows that he was type cast — but not from his previous roles. We type cast him because by day he is a practicing attorney in Crawfordsville and serves on a number of volunteer boards in town. After Stu read for the first time, our Scout Finch piped up and said, "He sounds like a lawyer." Well, that's because he is a lawyer, and he's also going to be a very fine Judge Taylor come April 15.

Miss Maudie Atkinson: This was another role for which we had three or four actresses step up with excellent auditions. We tried several combinations of women in the various roles, and we believe we got every role just right. Heather Jo Olin will appear in her third (straight) Vanity Theater production as the Finch's closest neighbor, Miss Maudie. Heather played (at least) three roles in December's A Christmas Carol, then donned plenty of green as an Ozian in the wildly successful production of The Wizard of Oz. Heather has obviously been bitten by the acting bug, and we're excited to have her in our cast. While there are so many amazing roles in this play, we think Miss Maudie has some of the most important and enduring lines.

Mrs. Dubose: Atticus Finch teaches his son, Jem, a number of important lessons when he "punishes" Jem by making him read to old Mrs. Dubose. Harper Lee and Christopher Sergel imagine an old, cranky lady for us. But we chose a delightful, funny, lively, and humane woman to play the part — Susan "Sue" Rubner. Sue and her husband are not from this area, but have been hard-working, participatory human rights activists in all the cities in which they have lived. Sue has done commercial work in the past, but we're most excited to have her insight when discussing the racial themes so dominant in our script. Sue and her husband have volunteered to help us in our educational outreach efforts, too, so we look forward to that. Sue will get really tired of us saying, "Crankier, Sue. Crankier!

Stephanie Crawford: We had cast 13-year-old veteran Trey Rogers as Dill for our production back in late January or early February. While his mom was shuttling him to and from early pre-rehearsals, she must have gotten excited about the play. Jill Rogers surprised us when she said she planned to audition, but was not at all surprising once she took the stage. She said she'd take any part, but we kept seeing her as Stephanie Crawford, the Maycomb County gossip who knows everything about everyone in town. Jill and Dan's children, Trey and Lanie, have appeared in many local theatrical productions, so Jill is no stranger to the Vanity Theater. She did lots of work in high school, took a break, then returned to the stage one year ago in Beth Swift's amazing production of The Women

JAN Productions Hard at Work

So the producers of To Kill a Mockingbird at the Vanity Theater are Jerry Bowie and Nancy Rodenbeck, who came up with the clever title of JAN Productions (Jerry And Nancy). Well, the director wants a little of the action, but will settle for the A in Amidon to round it off — Jerry-Amidon-Nancy Productions. Not quite as clever, but I write the blog, so...

All three of us were hard at work on Thursday and made big progress on the set. Jerry created a broken down fence for the Radley place, then a very nice fence for Mrs. Dubose's house (and put up with me dropping boards and chairs and desks and benches...)

Nan carried 30-some chairs off the stage, made a Home Depot run (our third in three days), and painted coat after coat of dark brown paint on some benches we'll use in court. 

By light's out Wednesday, we had what suddenly had begun to look like a set. Well, we had the front porch decks for the Finch home, and some flats that will serve as the Finch house. There's a lot still to be done, but we're increasingly excited about our prospects. And we believe that by Sunday when our actors return, we'll have the makings of a courtroom. Now, if we can just enlist some creative set painters...
Mid-afternoon Thursday
Check out Jerry's red hat...
Jerry's gonna kill me...

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Meet the Cast: Part 1

Someone wrote me today to suggest that we start to announce and publicize the talented cast we have for the Sugar Creek Players' production of To Kill a Mockingbird.

First, let me again point out that we will have six performances — April 15-16 and 21-23 at 8 p.m. and April 17 at 2:00 p.m. at the Vanity Theater in downtown Crawfordsville. Ticket information will be available soon.

Now, on to the cast (we'll profile everyone over the next week or so):

Jean Louise Finch: The version of Christopher Sergel's stage adaptation of To Kill a Mockingbird that we're using features a big role for Jean Louise — or as I've been saying — Scout, all grown up. This character is essentially the narrator in Harper Lee's amazing book. We're excited to have cast Vanity Theater veteran Niki Hutson in this role. Niki has played literally dozens of roles in Crawfordsville, and we're glad she auditioned for our show. Most recently, Niki has appeared in the Sugar Creek Players' productions of The Women ("Hello, Pet"), Noises Off, Female Odd Couple, Miracle on 34th Street, and Arsenic and Old Lace. While she normally gets "type-cast" as the life of the party, we'll see a different side of Niki Hutson as Jean Louise Finch.

Atticus Finch: This was, by far, the toughest casting decision we had to make. We had four talented actors audition, called back three, and eventually made our choice. We are excited that Damon Lincourt has returned to the Vanity Stage to tackle such a challenging role. Damon majored in theater at Northwestern University, bounced around the Chicago theater scene, did some commercial work, and eventually ended up in Crawfordsville with R.R. Donnelley and Sons. He has appeared on the Vanity Stage only once, but his work in Sugar (Some Like It Hot) was remarkable. While he won't wear a dress in Mockingbird, he'll bring exactly the right touch to Atticus Finch. Both of Damon's children (Victoria and Ben) have appeared in Vanity shows, and his wife, Elizabeth, serves on the theater's board, has created amazing sets, and worked with make-up in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe and Alice in Wonderland. A very talented family!

Scout Finch: Christopher Sergel suggests that this role should be played by an older actress than the movie version. We've chosen Sammie Amidon to tackle the part. She's a high-energy sixth-grader who, at age 11, already has appeared in seven Sugar Creek Players' productions and played Iago in the Tuttle Middle School production of Aladdin. Her favorite roles at the Vanity include the Town's Gal in The Somewhat True Tale of Robin Hood, Cheshire Cat in Alice in Wonderland, Widder Douglas in The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, and Elf in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. She's also active in choir and Circle the State with Song.

Jem Finch: Conner Smith has been cast as Atticus Finch's son, Jem. Conner has an impressive acting resume at the Vanity Theater, including roles as Huck Finn in The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, Aslan in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, and young Scrooge in A Christmas Carol. Conner is a home-schooled eighth grader, and his parents are the proud owners of This Old Farm near Colfax.

Charles Baker Harris, a.k.a. Dill: While technically not a part of the Finch family, Dill comes pretty close — especially after all of that camel-washing when he moves in and sleeps on a cot in the Finch home. The first time I read the play, one actor popped immediately into my brain to play the role of Dill. I tried mightily to get this thought out of my mind — a director can't pick one actor for a role after the first read. So I read the play again... and again... and again. And the actor who kept coming to mind was Trey Rogers. It was a no-brainer, then, to cast Trey for the part of Scout's "childhood fiance." Trey seems to have been in everything — on stage, in the choir, and in band. He was a very busy White Rabbit in Alice in Wonderland, had a leading role in Tuttle Middle School's Aladdin, and has too many music and acting credits to list here. Sufficed to say — we're glad he said "yes" when offered the part.

More actor biographies soon!

Setting the Stage

The set continues to come together for the Sugar Creek Players' production of To Kill a Mockingbird. The concept for the set — using platforms and flats that can serve as the Finch house and the courtroom — came from Bill Amidon of Anchorage, Alaska, who sketched out the basic idea that we've put into place. He's never seen the Vanity Theater, but came up with some  interchangeable parts that will help us transition from the Finch neighborhood to the courtroom and back again.

Given the theater's size, we've had to scale back some of the ideas, but we believe we have the right elements in place to help our audience imagine Maycomb, Alabama circa 1935. Photos forthcoming — nothing fun to photograph at this point, other than platform and flat frames.

A big shout-out to Wabash College for loaning us a truck and to Home Depot for custom cutting a lot of our lumber (a credit for the program; not here). An hour at Home Depot saved us about six hours in the upstairs wood room of the Vanity Theater. Imagine hauling 4x8 sheets of plywood up and down lots of stairs. Well, we didn't have to do that. Thanks to producer Jerry Bowie for his efforts with the truck and the wood.

Our other talented producer, Nancy Rodenbeck, gets a special kudos — along with Neal Tire — for securing Scout's tire swing. Now we just have to figure out how to hang it in a 100-year-old theater...

Tomorrow, we finish the flats and platforms, and ready the courthouse for Sunday's rehearsal!

We'll soon be looking for talented and creative set painters, who can bring our plywood and luan lumber to life!

Monday, March 7, 2011

Been There, Done That, Got the T-Shirt

T-shirts for the Sugar Creek Players' production of To Kill a Mockingbird are now on sale. Shirts are $10 for sizes S-XL and $12 for sizes 2X-6X.

You don't have to be a part of the cast or crew to wear a piece of Vanity Theater history. Comment to this blog or contact the director if you're interested in helping us promote the show via wearable art!

Getting Started, Gaining Momentum

Our first cast meeting and read-through was tremendous — very clearly we have a terrifically talented cast and crew. And even though we were missing a handful of our actors last night, we're on our way to creating a great production of To Kill a Mockingbird.

(You know you have a good cast when after the first full — and cold — reading of the play, our actors picked up on a couple of historical inaccuracies. They'll keep the director on his toes!)

Rehearsal schedules are coming together. We have another read-through with everyone in attendance, and then it's time to focus on set design and construction. We will begin blocking the show next Sunday, March 13.

Over the course of the next week, we will be using this space to introduce people to our cast members. Each day, we'll run a few biographies of the actors — but not any of the embarrassing audition night photos!

Safe travels to our cast members singing their way to Washington, D.C., and partying their way back from Mardi Gras!

(This blog has already had 595 page views in just over a week! Keep spreading the word!)

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Announcing the Mockingbird Cast

I'm thrilled with how many people turned out for auditions for the Sugar Creek Players production of To Kill a Mockingbird. We're blessed with so much talent, which is good for community theater in Crawfordsville and rough on directors and producers. We feel very good about the cast we have chosen and look forward to our first cast meeting and read-through on Sunday, March 6 at 5:30 p.m. at the Vanity Theater.

Cast List

Sugar Creek Players’ production of To Kill a Mockingbird

Jean Louise Finch -- Niki Hutson                                   

Atticus Finch -- Damon Lincourt

Scout Finch -- Sammie Amidon

Jem Finch -- Conner Smith

Charles Baker “Dill” Harris  -- Trey Rogers

Calpurnia -- TBD

Maudie Atkinson -- Heather Olin

Walter Cunningham -- Bill Hepburn

Bob Ewell -- Stephen Morillo

Mayella Ewell -- Allison Aldrich

Mr. Gilmer --  Art Lang                      

Judge Taylor -- Stu Weliever

Reverend Sykes -- Jerry Bowie

Sheriff Heck Tate -- Matt Mayberry

Stephanie Crawford -- Jill Rogers

Nathan Radley -- Alex Livengood

Arthur “Boo” Radley  -- Clayton Mikesell

Mrs. Dubose --  Susan Rubner

Tom Robinson -- Larry Savoy & DeVan Taylor (double cast, alternate weekends)

Helen Robinson -- Rebekah Kirts

Courtroom Clerk -- Rick James

Mob Members --  Rick James, Alex Livengood, Mahlon Nevitt, and Matt Clark.

Maycomb Citizens/Courtroom -- Sharyn Adams, Rick James, Alex Livengood, Mahlon Nevitt, Matt Clark, Barbara Walden, and Reggie Steele.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Thanks for Great Auditions!

Thanks to everyone who came out to the Vanity Theater Monday and Tuesday nights to audition for the Sugar Creek Players' production of To Kill a Mockingbird.

After going through the dreaded anxiety every director has hours before the first night of auditions — "Will anyone show up?" — everyone who took the stage to do cold readings turned that anxiety into excitement and energy.

If this was a sports team and not a theater production, I'd say "we're two deep at every position," which means we had at least (at least) two great auditions for every party. That's great for our production, but tough on the production team to make difficult casting decisions.

Some actors have been notified about call backs. If you were not asked to come back, don't freak out — that doesn't mean you won't be offered a part. It means that we saw enough of you, liked you a lot for a specific part, etc.

A cast list will be posted here at some point on Thursday. I'll send it to the website manager of the Sugar Creek Players, and when I get a chance, I'll post a hard copy on the front door of the theater. By Thursday night, I will email everyone who will be offered a part. You will need to reply to that email to accept the part.

Our first rehearsal will be Sunday evening, March 6 at the Vanity Theater. Doors will open no later than 5:30 and we'll begin our meeting at 5:45 p.m. Please be on time. We'll do some paperwork and announcements, read through at least the first half of the play, take a break for pizza, and finish reading the play (or if things go quickly, re-read a part of the play).

I will have a pretty solid rehearsal schedule for you Sunday night. Right now, I'd like for everyone in the cast to plan to attend on Sunday and on Monday (at 6:30 p.m.). We probably will not rehearse for the remainder of next week.

Again, thanks to everyone who came last night and thanks in advance to those returning tonight for call backs!

   — Jim

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Great First Night of Auditions

I just want to thank everyone who took the time to come to the first night of auditions for the Sugar Creek Players' production of To Kill a Mockingbird.

It was a great first night and all of the actors exceeded my expectations. I appreciate that all of you were flexible and willing to read for a variety of parts — including Stephen's unforgettable (in every way) reading of Dill!

Looking forward to see who auditions tonight as we begin to bring this magical story to life on the Vanity Theater stage!

A reminder to those who auditioned Monday night — you are free to come back tonight if you wish, it is not necessary. Call backs will be Wednesday night and a cast list will be posted here on Thursday.

Thanks again!