ANDERSON, Ind. — It’s a sin to kill mockingbirds since they never harm other creatures. They just provide pleasure through their music.
Anderson’s Mainstage Theatre provides that, too, in its latest production of “To Kill a Mockingbird.”
Directed by Roland VanHorn, social injustice, poverty, racism, gender roles and morality take center stage through Jean Louise Finch’s story of lost innocence in Maycomb, Ala., back during the Great Depression when she was known as Scout.
The classic American novel by Harper Lee comes back to life with a diverse cast to illustrate the timeless lessons of tolerance, class and growing up.
Taking us back to such a transitional time is Renee Hull-Allen as Jean Louise, or adult Scout. Hull-Allen’s soothing voice and storytelling abilities helps propel the story forward in a fresh way for an American classic.
Eleven-year-old Eleanor Cooper is angelic as Scout, offering the perfect blend of charm and believability as a tomboy, ready to get rough at a moment’s notice. She delivers in Scout’s most poignant moments, and showcases the story’s lessons through the eyes and voice of an innocent child.
Silas Morton, 13, takes on the big brother role as Scout’s sibling, Jem. He portrays the elder child as a protector of Scout, but also as one with questions and lessons to learn of his own.
Toby Fry, 12, fits right in with his peers as Dill, the nephew of town gossip Miss Stephanie, played by Michele Mullins.
Theresa Timmons offers a sweet, motherly performance as the Finch’s wise neighbor Miss Maudie, while Heidi Freer-Fry’s portrayal of the ill, and perhaps misunderstood, Mrs. Dubose is equal parts rude, entertaining and funny.
Elmore Hammes often adds a humorous side to town drunk Bob Ewell, although he has no problem sliding into the more tenacious, serious scenes. Brooke-Glen Gober is another showstopper during her courtroom scene as Mayella Ewell, the alleged victim of rape and violence.