Students Reading Book, Take In Play

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By SHAUN SAVARESE

Of The Record Staff

There’s still time to catch Harnett Regional Theatre’s production of Harper Lee’s ‘To Kill a Mockingbird.”

Students from Triton High School, Dunn Middle School, Midway Middle School and Cape Fear Christian Academy came by HRT yesterday morning to see the show for themselves.

“This is part of our effort to fulfill our mission to provide shows for our community,” Harnett Regional Theatre Board President Lynn Godwin said. “Some of our shows just really work out … this one did.”

Christie Heath, HRT board member, said that because many of these children have never been to a live show, “exposing them to the theater is important.

Performances continue this weekend with shows at 7:30 tonight and Saturday night, and 2:30 p.m. Sunday at The Stewart Theatre, 114 N. Wilson Ave., Downtown Dunn.

Tickets are $12 and available at www.onlinehrt.org, at the Dunn Area Tourism office, 103 E. Cumberland St., or at the door.

Dennis McCool is the director and Jenny White is the assistant director.

Mr. McCool said his part of the process begins long before opening auditions.

“Before auditions, I have read through the script a halfdozen times to get more and more of an idea on the personification of the characters,” he said.

He reads and re-reads the script thinking on actors, stage positioning, blocking and set design.

The first round of auditions for “To Kill a Mockingbird” took See Play, Page 13A

Students traveled from Triton High School in Erwin to Downtown Dunn’s Harnett Regional Theatre to see yesterday’s community production of ‘To Kill a Mockingbird.’The show runs all weekend with 7:30 p.m showings today and Saturday and a matinee, 2:30 p.m. on Sunday.

Daily Record Photo/Shaun Savarese Play

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place around Christmas, with the second round coming after New Year’s Day.

The cast and crew have put in numerous hours of rehearsal, set design and construction.

Mr. McCool said rehearsals began six weeks in advance of opening nights and took place four days a week. Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday.

For the director, seeing the whole thing come together is his greatest reward.

“This show is something that is timeless,” he added. “It was written in 1935, (yet) the message that is has is timeless.”

Mr. McCool spoke of prejudice, bigotry, stereotypes and labels; matters addressed in the play that still hold water in today’s culture.

Atticus Finch, a lawyer in the Depression-era South, defends a black man against an undeserved rape charge, and his two children, Jean Louise “Scout” Finch and Jem Finch, against prejudice.

“Harper Lee’s book was written 60 years ago and it still very meaningful today,” said the director.

Mrs. Godwin said many students who attended yesterday’s show are now studying the novel.

“I think it was inspiring for people to not look at differences, but on how people act and to judge them on their nature and how they act,” said 13-year-old Dunn Middle School student Lauren Taylor.

Harnett Regional Theatre performed “To Kill a Mockingbird” 20 years ago in 1996, and several of the cast members played roles in that performance which drew in record-breaking numbers with more than 1,100 in attendance.

Ashton Wood, a 13-year-old student at Dunn Middle School, thought the play was well organized and had a good storyline. After seeing the court case live, his favorite part of the show, he plans on reading the book and watching the film.

Atticus Finch is played by Hunter Hayes of McGee’s Crossroads, the young Scout by Christine West and young Jem Finch by Carter Godwin, both of Dunn.

Other characters in the story include Heck Tate (Rick Stephenson of Dunn), Mrs. Dubose (Amy Langdon of McGee’s Crossroads), Judge Taylor (Paul Stradley of Benson), Bob Ewell (Gene Chance of Dunn), Miss Maudie (Blair Chance of Dunn), Mr. Gilmer (Curt West of Dunn), the Rev. Sykes (Lewis Bell of Dunn), Calpurnia (Juanita Velazquez of Angier), Miss Stephanie (Erin Hardy of Erwin), Jean Louise (Keilah Goff of Dunn), Tom Robinson (Keith McDougald of Bunnlevel), Helen Robinson (Beatris Perez of Angier), Mayella Ewell (Kayleigh Clayton of Falcon), Nathan and Boo Radley (Mac Newton of Coats), Walter Cunningham (D.H. Johnson of Benson) and Dill (Conner Keen of Godwin). Lights and sound are being provided by Josiah Gillard of Fayetteville.

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