PRESTONSBURG - The Mountain Arts Center and the Jenny Wiley Theatre have teamed up to bring a piece of classic literature to residents of the mountains.
This Friday and Saturday, at the MAC, the two will present an adaptation of Harper Lee's Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, "To Kill A Mockingbird."
There will actually be three performance for area schools this week, with the show opening for the public on Friday with an evening performance beginning at 7:30 p.m. Another performance follows on Saturday.
The effort is a labor of love by all involved and represents another chance for audiences to enjoy an evening of entertainment from the talented folks at the Jenny Wiley Theatre after its regular season is over.
The production has brought together a cast of local and guest actors which include Misty Daniels and John Code, of Pikeville; Ronnie Dee Blair and Corey Music, of Paintsville; Jonathan Goble, of Prestonsburg; Josey McCoy, of Inez; and Mickey Fisher, of Ironton, Ohio.
The play centers on a small-town Southern lawyer named Atticus Finch as he is seen through the eyes of his two children. These pivotal roles have been cast by two talented youngsters who have had to undergo an intense rehearsal schedule while readjusting to school. Hannah Ratliff, a sixth-grader at Elkhorn City Elementary and Skyler Slone, a sixth-grader at Hindman Elementary fill out those roles.
The production staff has had only a few weeks to work some miracles but they have definitely succeeded. Brad Coleman designed the sets and is no stranger to fast-paced work. Coleman and carpenter Greg Sutherland, of Louisa, have erected the entire small town set while costume designer Corey Martin was able to dress the entire cast in period clothing in all of two weeks. Only director Scott Bradley was able to get started on planning the show early, about two months ago, but he was also juggling the directing chores on several summer productions that were part of the theater's regular summer season.
The cast excels here and repaints the vivid portrait of racial strife in a small Alabama town with sterling results. A talented cast of Jenny Wiley regulars have a field day with the material with exceptional performances by Jonathan Goble, Ronnie Dee Blair, Misty Daniels, Josey McCoy, Corey Music, Mickey Fisher and John Code.
The entire production is anchored by a heartfelt performance by Hannah Ratliff as Scout. It is through this young child's eyes that all of the action takes place. Young Ratliff acquaints herself well in the demanding role as her character's eyes are widened through the course of the play to the harsh adult realities that constantly intrude on her life and force her to see her father and her town with new eyes as everyone in the production copes with the harsh realities of race relations and poverty.
All in all it's a fine adaptation of Lee's novel and another chance for audiences to enjoy this classic in another format.
Tickets for the show are reasonably priced at $10 for youths under 21, $12,for seniors and $14 for adults. Tickets are available by calling the Mountain Arts Center at 886-2623 or toll-free at (888) MAC-ARTS.
Funding for the show was partly provided by the Kentucky Arts Council and the National Endowment for the Arts.