|Grover McCants as Reverend Sykes and townspeople Elizabeth Hemmingway and Adrienne Kelly-Webb observe the trial from the "colored" balcony with Jem, Scout and Dill. Photo by Tom Bigwood.|
To Kill A Mockingbird finally opened this weekend. I say “finally” because it has been months in preparation since auditions in June, and rehearsals that ran from mid-July through September. It was very gratifying to see all our hard work pay off. On opening night, every actor had a little extra pep in his step. Lines were delivered with more energy and enthusiasm. Cue pick-ups were tight. And despite a few glitches that only the directors would notice, the show went off without a hitch.
Every audience is different, and as director Michael Schacherbauer likes to point out, “Every night is opening night for that audience.” He encouraged the cast to keep their focus and to perform with the same energy level in every show. Each audience reacts in its own way. Friday’s opening night crowd was in the mood to laugh, and found humor in the eccentric characters that make up Maycomb, Alabama, the fictional setting of the play. The first act is relatively light compared to the heavier themes of the courtroom scene. But even Sheriff Heck Tate’s announcement of someone’s death drew incongruous laughter, perhaps because it was unexpected.
By comparison, Saturday night’s crowd was more subdued. They were clearly engaged in following the play, but less vocal in their responses. I sat with friends who absolutely loved the performance, but it was just not a laughing matter to them. Given the play’s serious themes of racism and prejudice, this is not surprising; it just reinforces how every audience experiences the play differently.
When my friends asked me if seeing the play as assistant director was like “giving birth” to my creation, I responded that “It is more like seeing your daughter go off to college. You know that she is ready, but it is still a little hard letting go.” This cast is certainly more than ready to deliver another top-notch performance, so I encourage you to come see another “opening night” real soon.
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