AUBURN — “To Kill a Mockingbird” is a classic book and an unforgettable movie. Lewiston-Auburn Community Little Theatre emphasizes those merits and makes its excellent stage production another important and memorable experience for its audiences.

The play incorporates much of the familiar dialogue from the 1962 film starring Gregory Peck as Atticus Finch. After the 50 years since publication of Harper Lee’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, those scenes from the silver screen have merged with memories formed by words on the book’s pages.

Director Linda Britt lets those indelible words and images reappear on the local stage, and it’s a wise and satisfying approach for such a well-known story.

Stan Spilecki recreates the role of Atticus with just the right use of Peck’s movements and pace of his speech. Atticus is a middle-aged lawyer of unquestionable integrity in a small “tired” Alabama town. When he must take on the defense of a black man charged with rape, he faces a difficult challenge to his faith in courtroom justice.

Spilecki, a veteran of several stage productions in the area, gives a solid performance. His characterization is quiet, but powerful.

Three young actors are also key characters in the play.

Julia St. Laurent, 11, a student at Geiger Elementary School in Lewiston plays Scout, the lawyer’s young daughter who is trying to grasp the meaning of the trial and its effect on her father and the townspeople. She gives an excellent performance.

Scout’s brother, Jem, is played by Drew Masse, 13, a Lewiston Middle School student.

Dill, a friend of Scout and Jem who is visiting or the summer, is played by Dante Baskett, 12, an Auburn Middle School student. The boys’ roles provide some light moments, and they handle the action admirably.

Veteran CLT actor Roger Philippon’s appearance as Bob Ewell, father of the raped girl, is remarkable. Philippon has had many roles that put his comic talents in the spotlight, but audiences will see exceptional dramatic skills in the menace he brings to the Ewell portrayal.

Danielle Sicotte is another cast member whose dramatic talents get a fine introduction. She has been a CLT choreographer, but in “To Kill a Mockingbird,” she plays the girl who charges the black man with rape. As she takes the stand at the trial, she goes from timidity to fiery as she lashes out in frustration at her situation.

Mark Hazard plays Heck Tate, the county sheriff. His role builds slowly to the play’s climax in which it is he who has the final word in the town’s difficult journey to justice.

Boyd Scott is Tom Robinson, the unjustly accused black man. His performance is also excellent.

Deidra Opfermann gives a very good performance as Calpurnia, the Finch family’s housekeeper. It’s her first appearance on any stage.

Other fine work is done by Michelle Vazquez Jacobus as Miss Maudie, townsperson and narrator; Andrea Quaid as Miss Stephanie, a local woman with a gossipy tongue; and Rachel Morin as a crabby old woman able to teach some lessons of her own.

Harley Marshall turns in a good performance as Mr. Gilmer, the prosecuting attorney.

The role of Boo Radley, a memorable character in the movie, comes in only at the end, but it has a pivotal place in the plot. Travis Mayo, also debuting on the CLT stage, presents a memorable figure as the painfully shy man who lives next-door to the Finch house.

Although the story is about a black man on trial for rape before an unforgiving jury, almost every figure in “To Kill a Mockingbird” represents some victim or source of persecution and injustice, including poverty, age and bigotry.

The opening night performance had some rocky moments in the beginning as complicated relationships between characters were developed. The second act builds the tension, and the conclusion of this play is totally satisfying.

Following the opening night’s standing ovation performance on Feb. 4, about one-third of the large audience stayed for a talk-back session with a dozen of the cast members. Scott said the role of Tom Robinson was very difficult for him to do because of reminders of this country’s social injustices. Other cast members agreed that they learned a lot from the show, and they expressed pleasure in bringing those lessons to their audiences.

Remaining shows

WHAT: “To Kill a Mockingbird”

WHEN: 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 10; 8 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, Feb. 11-12; and 2 p.m. on Sunday, Feb. 13

WHERE: Great Falls Arts Center, 30 Academy St., Auburn

TICKETS: Call 783-0958 or visit www.laclt.com

Stan Spilecki portrays lawyer Atticus Finch and Danielle Sicotte plays Mayella in the Lewiston-Auburn Community Little Theatre’s production of “To Kill a Mockingbird.” The show runs through Sunday, Feb. 13, at the Great Falls Arts Center in Auburn.


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