REVIEWS:

 

'To Kill a Mockingbird' -- The kids are (more than) all right
By Peter Filichia
The Star Ledger

Over the years, many child actors have killed “To Kill a Mockingbird.” They’ve over-emoted, gestured wildly and spoken sloppily – to the point where they haven’t been understood.

But that’s not the case at the Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey. Director Joe Discher has the extraordinary Emmanuelle Nadeau, Frankie Seratch and Ethan Haberfield on hand. They impressively enact Harper Lee’s legendary story about racial prejudice in a small, Depression-era Alabama town. READ MORE.

 



Shakespeare Theatre's Mockingbird Sings
By CW Walker
Daily Record

As in the book and the film’s voiceover, the adult Jean Louise Finch serves as narrator. She is alternately a welcome and intrusive presence, but Nisi Sturgis in the role does such a fine job establishing a warm rapport with the audience, we can forgive her when she occasionally explains the obvious. READ MORE.



REVIEW: To Kill a Mockingbird
By Simon Saltzman
CurtainUP

The adaptation is certainly a sincere effort to bring attention to the novel’s most beguiling and fundamental virtues. At its most endearing, this growing-up story of a rambunctious little girl nick-named ‘Scout’ offers us glimpses into her feelings. She also provides numerous demonstrations of her winsome precociousness, especially in the way she idolizes her widowed father Atticus – the town’s most respected attorney. Like the trustworthy, kind, brave, etc. scoutmaster his daughter sees him, Brent Harris, who is making his first appearance at STNJ, is commendably honest and forthright. READ MORE.



Solid Stage Adaptation of To Kill a Mockingbird Revived at Shakespeare Theatre
By Bob Rendell
Talkin' Broadway.com

Originally copyrighted by Christopher Sergel back around 1970 and intended for high school productions, the stage version of Harper Lee's 1960 Pulitzer Prize novel To Kill a Mockingbird has proven irresistible to the producers of major regional theaters throughout the country since its first professional production (with a cast of fifty) at the Paper Mill Playhouse in 1991. Sergel tinkered with his adaptation until his death in 1993. At Paper Mill, the story was narrated by Maudie, friend and neighbor of the Finches. When the George Street Playhouse produced it in 1998, Jean-Louise Finch, the grown up Scout, had become the narrator as she is still. Its current revival at the Shakespeare Theatre marks Mockingbird's third major New Jersey production. READ MORE.



FINCHES OF A FEATHER
Harper Lee's
classic characters have been brought to life with appealing insight and clarity.
By Robert L. Daniels
Theatre News Online

It has been over a half century since Harper Lee's Pulitzer Prize-winning novel was published. Subsequently the 1962 motion picture was honored wIth Academy Award honors for its screenplay by Horton Foote and a Best Actor nod to Gregory Peck for his performance as Atticus Finch. The novel was adapted for the stage by Christopher Setgel, but the unmistakable voice of the rural south and its compassionate thrust for justice and human dignity is that of Harper Lee. The dramatization is currently on the Garden State stage in a warming production by the Shakespeare Theater of New Jersey. As staged by Joseph Discher it is a singularly stunning achievement. READ MORE.


STAGE REVIEW: 'To Kill a Mockingbird’ at Shakespeare Theatre ‘Like the book, the play makes an emotional appeal to our sense of justice and fair-mindedness, the importance of taking a courageous stand’
By Bob Brown
The Princeton Packet

The action heats up as things build toward the courtroom scenes, where Scout and her friends have hidden themselves to see the wheels of justice in operation. Inevitably, the weight of the film version hangs over any stage performance, and Gregory Peck’s spirit is hard to disentangle from Atticus. Harris does a fine job making Atticus his own, balancing the character’s paternal warmth with the oratorical skills of a defense lawyer and the outrage of an angered citizen who pursues truth and full disclosure. READ MORE.


Racism Sizzles in a Small, Sleepy Alabama Town in the 1930s: To Kill a Mockingbird Moves From Screen to Stage, Impressively
By Bruce Chadwick
History News Network

The results at Drew are pretty impressive, though. To Kill a Mockingbird on stage retains the powerful drive of the book and film and, at the same time, captures Atticus Finch as a single dad and a skilled lawyer. It also preserves the wonder of childhood that made the film such a success. Young Jem, Dill and Scout live on in theater as they did in film. READ MORE.



Classic Mockingbird Premieres at Shakespeare Theatre
By William Westhoven
Madison Patch

But the children, particularly in the first act, are a revelation, handling page after page of dialogue and stage action to near perfection. All of them go beyond hitting their marks, though, to build real characters, display real emotions and have the requisite charm to provide comic relief when it’s most needed.

Put them all on the honor roll, but credit their teacher, Discher, who never fails to get the best out of every actor he casts. READ MORE.



REVIEW: "To Kill a Mockingbird" @ STNJ
By Ruth Ross
NJ Arts Maven

If you loved the novel and film - and if you have children who have read the book- come on over to The Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey for this not-to-be-missed, masterfully performed dramatic experience. Even if you aren’t familiar with either, you’ll be glad you did. READ MORE.



To Kill a Mockingbird at the Shakespeare Theatre Captures the Hauting Beauty of the Novel
By Liz Keill
The Alternative Press

None of this would have happened without Joe Discher’s brilliant direction. He makes the crowd scene seem threatening and the courtroom scene abuzz with emotion. Anita Tripathi Easterling is the scenic designer, subtly shifting the Finch’s front porch and the Radley ominous doorway to the outside of a jail and, later, a courtroom with its tall windows and balcony. Matthew E. Adelson’s lighting helps us imagine the scary walk home after the Halloween production at the school and Maggie Dick’s costumes reflect the limits of the south, pre air-conditioning, from Atticus rumpled suit to Scout’s overalls.

There’s a lot to love in “To Kill a Mockingbird” and a constant reminder that each of us can strive for the integrity we see in Atticus Finch, to look at others as individuals who have feelings just like we do. READ MORE.



REVIEW: 'To Kill a Mockingbird' shows young talent
By Stuart Duncan
NEW JERSEY NEWS ROOM

The Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey, set on the lovely campus of Drew University in Madison, offers a lot more than mere revivals of The Bard. For example, Harper Lee’s modern masterpiece “To Kill A Mockingbird,” the only novel she ever wrote, probably best remembered as a movie that starred Gregory Peck (in his one and only Oscar-winning performance) is now on view as a play.

Ms. Lee’s 1935 tale of Atticus Finch, a local Maycomb, Alabama lawyer (the town is fictional,) who dares to defend a black man accused of a crime against a trashy white woman, is the stuff of compassion, integrity and courage – it resonates today as powerfully as it did decades ago. And, under Joseph Discher’s direction (he is in his 21st season win Millburn) and superb company of 21, the story is as fresh as ever. READ MORE.



"Mockingbird" Sings at STNJ
By Sherri Rase
Q On Stage

Harper Lee is a national treasure and it’s on the strength of a single phenomenal novel. It is more than 50 years since her game-changing book “To Kill a Mockingbird” was published. Ironically, the battle lines portrayed in the novel are still being fought today. If you doubt that, you have only to see Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey’s (STNJ) production of Christopher Sergel’s play by the same name. A period piece like STNJ’s recent production of “Grapes of Wrath,” “Mockingbird” takes us back to a time, immediately prior to the Freedom Riders, to an Alabama that contained not only George Wallace, but also Atticus Finch. And like the proverbial canary in a coal mine, this Finch was a harbinger of things to come. READ MORE.



To Kill a Mockingbird at the Shakespeare Theatre of NJ
By Rick Busciglio
Examiner

The powerful and yet sensitive stage version of the great American classic To Kill a Mockingbird premiered last weekend at the Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey. As with all the plays from the STNJ, this is an outstanding production... from the marvelous casting, to the staging, the superior sets and time perfect costumes. The director is Joseph Discher, a 21 year veteran of the STNJ. Leading the excellent cast are Brent Harris as Atticus Finch, Nisi Sturgis as the adult Jean Louise Finch who is the narrator, and Emmanuelle Nadeau as the young Jean Louise Finch ("Scout"). READ MORE

 

To Compell a Mocking Generation
By Stephan Wells
BaristaNet.com

But also key is Discher’s incredible casting of the three young kids at the core of the story. They don’t come across as child actors; they just ingratiate themselves as natural kids with no cloying or manufactured qualities.

This production has deservedly become a very “hot ticket” since it opened last month, but it’s worth even putting your name on a waiting list if necessary to see it before it closes a week from Sunday. READ MORE.


PREVIEWS:


To Kill a Mockingbird: Stepping up to the Bar
By Peter Filichia
The Star Ledger

Harris knows he faces an enormous challenge. Atticus, after all, was voted by the American Film Institute as the greatest hero in American film. The role won a 1962 Oscar for Gregory Peck.

“I had a chance to do it some time ago, and decided not to because I didn’t want to be compared to Gregory Peck,” says Harris. “This time when I was offered it, though, I read it and was so moved that I realized that there is too much value in this property to say no." READ MORE.


Young Actress Educates Herself to Play Scout in "To Kill a Mockingbird"
By Kara Yorio
NorthJersey.com

Nadeau is making her Shakespeare Theatre debut. The seventh-grader was Puck in New Jersey Youth Theatre's "Midnight Madness" and has also appeared in "I'll Take Manhattan" at the Paper Mill Playhouse and in other, smaller productions. This role, however, is different from any others of her young career.

"This is the most dramatic and intense show that I've done," she says. "I've never done any other shows that even had this much of a moral." READ MORE.