Chicago's Steppenwolf Theatre Presents "To Kill a Mockingbird."


Atticus Finch (Phillip R. Smith) and Scout Finch (Caroline Heffernan) in Steppenwolf’s “To Kill a Mockingbird.”


Steppenwolf has done it again with their captivating and honest production of the Harper Lee novel To Kill a Mockingbird.  Mockingbird, part of Steppenwolf for Young Adults programming, could easily be appreciated by ages 12 to 100.  The classic story that was chosen in 2001 by the City of Chicago as its initial book for their popular One Book Chicago series, examines racial injustice in a small Alabama town in 1935.

Lee’s Pulitzer prize winning novel written in 1960 celebrates its 50-year anniversary this year.  The timeless classic compels us to take an honest look at our nation’s past and our moral responsibility to each other as it continues to pack a powerful punch.  In a recent survey of British librarians, To Kill a Mockingbird, ranked above the Bible and was called “the one book every adult should read before they die.”  

There are few who don’t know the story of this Harper Lee classic.  Set in Alabama during the


Great Depression, To Kill a Mockingbird follows the journey of Jem and Scout Finch, whose father has been appointed to defend Tom Robinson, a black man accused of assaulting a white woman. As the trial progresses, Jem and Scout witness their community in a tense tug of war between justice and racism.

I’ve always had a soft spot in my heart for Mockingbird’s  “Scout,” the smart, outspoken daughter of Atticus Finch–so much so that I even named my black lab, Scout.  A good Scout is as important to this racial tug of war as a good Atticus, maybe even more so.  Caroline Heffernan as the young Scout alone is worth the price of admission.  As for a good Atticus, Lookingglass Theatre ensemble member, Philip R. Smith is perfect.  He is believable, doesn’t over-act and is the glue that cements the entire production.

The play is smartly staged by Steppenwolf’s Artistic Director Hallie Gordon using the dramatization of Christopher Sergel.  Scenic Designer Collette Pollard designed an authentic set with a balcony for the narrator, the grown-up Scout (Carolyn Defrin), plus three houses and front porches


where the action alternately takes in act one. In act two, the set is effectively used as the courtroom. Bubba Weiler, as Scout’s brother Jem, exhibits just the right mix of compassion and anger.  Zachary Keller‘s, cocky yet sensitive Dill adds the spice required for his character. 

The beautifully cast production also featured ensemble member Alan Wilder with Abu Ansari, James D. Farruggio, Franette Liebow, Larry Neumann, Jr., Elaine Roth, Gary Simmers, Sandra Watson, Claire Wellin and Dexter Zollicoffer.

Just announced.
CHICAGO (October 20, 2010) – Due to popular demand, Steppenwolf for Young Adults’ critically-acclaimed, sold-out production of To Kill a Mockingbird will add three additional public performances on Tuesday, November 16, Wednesday, November 17 and Thursday, November 18 at 7:30 pm.  Tickets for the second and final extension will go on sale Thursday, October 21 at 11 am.  Box office: (312) 335 1650.  Steppenwolf’s Upstairs Theatre, 1650 N. Halsted St. 

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