Civil rights classic ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ at Edison Jan. 9-18

Since its publication in 1960, Harper Lee’s “To Kill a Mockingbird” has become the best-selling novel of all time and is perhaps the most widely read book exploring race in the United States.

In January, Edison Theatre will join forces with Metro Theater Company, St. Louis’ foremost professional troupe for young people, to stage an all-ages theatrical production of the civil rights classic.

Nicholas Kryah as Atticus and Emily Jackoway as Scout in “To Kill a Mockingbird.”

“As we anticipate our new national leadership and cope with difficult local issues, ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ strikes home with renewed relevance,” says Charles E. Robin, executive director of Edison Theatre. “It’s a story that resonates with ever deeper meaning and strength. Seeing it brought to life on the stage will unlock nuances in a way that only theatre can.”

Performances, which take place in Edison Theatre Jan. 9-18, will be held in conjunction with the Big Read, a national program sponsored by the National Endowment for the Arts designed to encourage communities to read and discuss a single book.

Set in 1935 in fictional Maycomb, Ala., “To Kill a Mockingbird” is a coming-of-age tale centering on Jean Louise “Scout” Finch; her older brother, Jem; and their visiting friend, Dill.

Under the watchful eye of Calpurnia, the Finchs’ African-American housekeeper, the trio spends lazy summer days concocting theories about Boo Radley, a mysterious neighbor. But when Scout’s father, the widowed lawyer Atticus Finch, is called to defend a black man falsely accused of raping a white woman, the bonds of family, friendship and even civil society are tested, and Scout learns the true meaning of dignity and tolerance.

“Harper Lee called her book ‘a simple love story,'” said Metro Artistic Director Carol North, who directs the cast of 19. “It is that and much, much more. The enduring power of ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ is its ability to touch the heart as well as awaken the conscience of readers.

“For me, it’s a call to action,” North said. “We need only look at our own community to see how social inequity, racism and fear of the ‘other’ continue to divide us. I’m so grateful for the partnership with Edison Theatre that makes it possible for Metro Theater Company to bring this powerful story to the stage for St. Louis.”

The cast is led by Nicholas Kryah as Atticus and Bobbie Williams as Calpurnia. Double cast in the roles of the children are Berklea Going and Emily Jackoway as Scout; Hal Matthews and Jimmy McEvoy as Jem; and Parker Donovan and Drew Redington as Dill. Dominic Richardson plays Tom Robinson, the young man Atticus defends, while Andrew Keller is Mr. Gilmer, the public prosecutor. Also featured are Susan Arnold Marks as Mayella Ewell, Robinson’s accuser, and Greg Johnston as her drunken father, Bob. The mysterious Boo Radley is played by Martin Casey. Musician Sandy Weltman also is featured in the production.

The production is based on the 1970 stage adaptation by Christopher Sergel. Sets and props are by Dunsi Dai and Eric Barnes, respectively, with costumes by Lou Bird. Lighting and sound are by John Wylie and Amanda Bruggeman, respectively. Bruce Longworth is dialect coach.

In addition, Metro and Edison will co-host a postshow reception Jan. 9 and welcome actress Mary Badham, who played Scout in the Academy Award-winning 1962 film. Badham also will participate in postshow Q&A sessions following both the 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. performances Jan. 10.

Tickets to the show are $16, or $12 for children, students and seniors. Groups of 10 or more can purchase blocks of tickets at $8 each.

Tickets to the opening-night reception are $35. Both can be purchased through the Edison Theatre Box Office or at all MetroTix outlets.

For more information, visit or or call 935-6543.