To Kill a Mockingbird Kicks off Ninth Season

By September 2, 2016 September 17th, 2017 No Comments

To Kill a Mockingbird Kicks off Ninth Season
Sept. 20 – Oct. 2

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Patrick Ryan Sullivan (Atticus) with Roman Kyle (Tom Robinson) and Michael Khanlarian (Bob Ewell).

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Adela Calzada (Dill) and Ainsley Geno (Scout).

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Patrick Ryan Sullivan (Atticus) with Joshua Pearce (Jem) and Ainsley Geno (Scout).

All photos: Joey Miller.

(Memphis, TN; September 1, 2016) Tennessee Shakespeare Company, the Mid-South’s professional, classical theatre, in partnership with Memphis’ Hutchison School, will perform Christopher Sergel’s revised stage adaptation of Harper Lee’s daring American classic, To Kill a Mockingbird from September 20 through October 2.

Played on the Wiener Theater within Hutchison’s beautiful campus in East Memphis, To Kill a Mockingbird launches TSC’s ninth performance season.

The production’s title sponsors are FedEx, Margaret and Owen Tabor, Dorothy O. Kirsch, and Pat and Thane Smith.

Early Bird tickets are on sale now: the first 24 seats sold to each performance will be located in the new Best Seats section of the theatre.  Tickets may be purchased now by calling TSC’s Box Office at (901) 759-0604 or online at www.tnshakespeare.org.

Tickets are $34. Preview tickets are only $16.  The September 29 performance is Free Will Kids’ Night:  Children 17 years and younger are admitted FREE when accompanied by a paying/attending Guardian.  Senior tickets (62 years and older) are $29, and Student tickets (18 years and older) are $16 for any performance.  Opening Night on September 24 includes a complimentary post-show reception with the actors.  

Directed by TSC’s founder and Producing Artistic Director Dan McCleary, the cast of 20 actors features Broadway veteran Patrick Ryan Sullivan as Atticus Finch, Memphian Ainsley Geno as Scout, and the return of TSC favorite Tony Molina, Jr. as Rev. Sykes. 

The cast also includes Michael Khanlarian (Bob Ewell), Josh Pearce (Jem), Adela Calzada (Dill), Caroline Couch (Mayella), Ann Wallace (Calpurnia), Meredith Koch (Maudie), Jeanna Juleson (Stephanie), Carolyn Spratley (Mrs. Dubose), Chris Cotten (Boo Radley/Mr. Gilmer), Jim Dale Green (Sheriff Tate), J.D. Sutton (Jude Taylor/Mr. Cunningham), and Roman Kyle (Tom Robinson).  The ensemble members are Kaitlyn Graham, CQ Gintz, Zoe Ford, and Violet Wallace.

The Assistant Director is Anne Marie Caskey.  The Lighting and Scenic Designer is Jeremy Fisher.  DeAnna Rowe provides Costume Design.  Kristen Fisher is the Associate Scenic Designer, and Meredith Koch provides music direction.

Novelist Harper Lee was born in 1926 in Monroeville, Alabama, and died this past February.  She wrote her small town and the people she knew into her work, which won the Pulitzer Prize following its 1960 publishing.  Made into a popular film in 1962, To Kill a Mockingbird remains one of the most popular books in American homes and school curriculums.  Lee paints a portrait of her small southern town during the Depression of 1933-15 when she was ten years old. 

Her youth looks through a lens of innocence, humor, inquiry, courage, and imagination at a hard story of a hard time. She builds her father into a model of integrity during a period of accepted racism that allows, before her eyes, to sentence to jail an African-American man for a violent crime against a white girl that he clearly does not commit.  He reportedly escapes prison and is shot 17 times, unarmed.

The girl in the novel, Jean Louise Finch (Scout), her older brother Jem, and their friend Dill (based on real-life friend Truman Capote) are joyfully disarming as they discover multiple stories of innocent mockingbirds in their lives: Tom Robinson, as well as the reclusive but life-saving neighbor Boo Radley, the tortured and poor Mayella Ewell, their father Atticus who alone stands against the town’s ingrained violence and prejudice, and the African-American community.

“The lessons these children learn,” says McCleary, “are those that too many of us as adults have allowed ourselves to forget.  Not unlike Romeo and Juliet, Mockingbird is still taught to our students because it is painfully clear we in 2016 have not quite progressed as far as our grandparents of the 1930s might have hoped.  We have been too slow to accept the American ideal that all are welcome and all are created equal here.  The violence that video now attests to, the bottled-up protests we experience in our cities now, and the closing of schools, certainly in Memphis, in minority communities that can no longer safely support them all agitate this production.

“TSC produces plays environmentally.  That we produce Mockingbird in a high school theatre in Memphis in 2016 is artistically intentional.  We embrace the environment, begin the play with modernity, and incorporate the music of the period using live strings and vocals.   

“I believe the book is the American masterwork of the 20th century.  It is going to be with us for generations, skillfully applying big-hearted youth and arresting humor to the plague that prevents our country from achieving the peaceful greatness imagined by our forefathers.  To loosely appropriate Ben Jonson, Mockingbird is not just of a time but for all time.”

Until Lee permitted the release of her novel Go Set a Watchman last summer, To Kill a Mockingbird was her only published book. 

To Kill a Mockingbird is produced by special arrangement with Dramatic Publishing, Woodstock, IL.


Artists’ Bios

Adela Calzada (Dill) loves ballet, playing bass guitar, and competing with her Destination Imagination team at school.

Anne Marie Caskey (Assistant Director/House Manager) has taught and directed theatre at Hutchison School for 25 years.  She is the recipient of the Myrna Colley-Lee and E’dena Hines Academic Chair for Excellence and The Ruthie and Bliss Bowlin Grant for Creativity.  In addition to her work at Hutchison, Anne Marie has remained an active theatre artist in the Memphis community.  She has performed and/or directed at Playhouse on the Square, Circuit Playhouse, Theatre Memphis, Voices of the South, Desoto Family Theatre, and Hattiloo Theatre.  She has been nominated for eight Ostrander Awards for acting and/or directing.

Chris Cotten (Mr. Gilmer/Arthur Radley) has been performing and directing in theatres in the Memphis area for almost 30 years.  Some favorite recent roles include Big Davy in Billy Elliot at Playhouse on the Square; Burl Sanders in Sanders Family Christmas at Circuit Playhouse; Corin in As You Like It, Zach in A Chorus Line, and Watson in Sherlock Holmes: The Final Adventure at Theatre Memphis; David in Ring of Fire: The Music of Johnny Cash (which he also directed) at Germantown Community Theatre; and Jean Shepherd in A Christmas Story: The Musical at Harrell Theatre.  As a playwright, Chris’ play What I’m Thinking, Since You Ask was a finalist in Actors Theatre of Louisville’s National Ten-Minute Playwriting Contest and was later staged by Playhouse Nashville; and his play The Double, Half-Broken Line was staged by The Company of Pittsburgh as part of the Pittsburgh New Works Festival.

Caroline Couch (Mayella Ewell) Credits include several productions at Grace-St. Luke’s Episcopal School, notably The Lion King, Jr. (Scar), Funhouse, and The Merry Wives of Windsor (Shallow).  Additionally, Caroline has performed with Kudzu Playhouse in her hometown of Hernando, Mississippi.

Jeremy Fisher (Lighting & Scenic Designer/Technical Director) TSC: All’s Well That Ends Well, Twelfth Night, Richard III, The Taming of the Shrew, Unto the Breach, It’s a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play, and Hamlet.  He is the Resident Lighting Designer for Theatre Memphis.  Jeremy also has worked with Ballet Memphis, Busch Gardens, Oklahoma Shakespeare in the Park, University of Memphis, Northern Oklahoma College, Collage Dance, and The Santa Fe Opera.  Awards include seven Ostrander nominations for his Lighting Designs, first place in lighting design at SW-USITT (2011), and first runner-up for the National Barbizon Lighting Award (2011).  He is a graduate of Oklahoma City University with a B.F.A. in Lighting Design. 

Kristen Fisher (Associate Scenic Designer) has been in a variety of positions with the company, including stage manager, assistant stage manager, props master, and sound designer.  Previous shows include The TempestThe Glass MenagerieThe Complete Works of William Shakespeare (abridged)It’s a Wonderful LifeHamlet, The Taming of the Shrew, and Richard III.  Kristen is currently in her fifth season as the Stage Manager and Production Coordinator for Ballet Memphis.

Zoe Ford (ensemble) has been seen on stage in the Memphis community in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat at Theatre Memphis, A Wrinkle in Time and Harriet the Spy most recently on the Hutchison stage, and A Child’s Garden of Verses and Where the Wild Things Are through Hutchison at Dixon Gallery & Gardens.  She loves to write and play music.  Zoe plays piano, keyboards, and drums and is lead singer with her Delta Girls Rock Camp band called Neptune’s Landing.  

Ainsley Lorentz Geno (Scout) In addition to her theatre classes, her favorite subjects are math and creative writing.  She has been selected for two years to be a member of Performing Arts of Germantown’s competitive dance group.  Her dance groups have been the overall winner at numerous competitions, and she has been a two-time Mid-South Fair Junior Youth Talent finalist as both a dancer and vocalist.

Cynthia Quinn “CQ” Gintz (ensemble/Scout understudy) was seen on the Hutchison stage as Fortinbras in A Wrinkle in Time and as Pinky Whitehead in Harriet the Spy

Kaitlyn Graham (ensemble/Dill understudy) This is her third show in Memphis, and it will be her twelfth show overall.  Previously, she lived in Birmingham, AL, and participated in Red Mountain Theater and Virginia Samford Theater.

James Dale Green (Heck Tate) is a veteran of many stage productions since making his acting debut at the age of 13 in Babes in Toyland.  Since then, he has acted on almost all of Memphis’ stages and is delighted to be making his Tennessee Shakespeare Company debut. James Dale has a B.F.A. in Theatre from the University of Memphis, graduating in 1973.  He also has performed with The Lyceum Theatre in Missouri and with The Kaleidoscope Players in New Mexico.  Favorite Shakespeare roles include Puck in A Midsummer Night’s Dream at Theatre Memphis and the Fool in King Lear with New Moon Theatre.  Other favorite roles are Candy in Of Mice and Men, Mr. Klemper in The Boys Next Door, Willy Lohman in Death of a Salesman, King Henry VIII in A Man for All Seasons, and Mozart in Amadeus.

Jeanna Juleson (Stephanie Crawford) TSC: the Widow in All’s Well That Ends Well.  This season, she also performed as Mother Superior in Sister Act at Playhouse on the Square, Anna Patterson in The Country House at Circuit Playhouse, and Muriel in Dirty Rotten Scoundrels at Germantown Community Theater.  Recent roles in Memphis include Hannah in Angels in America: Millennium and Angels in America: Perestroika, Grandma in Billy Elliot, Electra in Gypsy, and Mrs. Brill in Mary Poppins. 

Michael Khanlarian (Bob Ewell) is a founding member of TSC where his credits include Henry V, All’s Well That Ends Well, Twelfth Night, The Tempest, Othello, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, As You Like It, and Romeo and Juliet.  Michael is a graduate of the University of Memphis.

Meredith Koch (Maudie Atkinson; Music Director) is a singer-songwriter/actor and native Memphian.  Favorite credits include Ring of Fire (June Carter Cash), Steel Magnolias (Shelby Latcherie), Belles (Paige Walker), and The Scarlet Pimpernel (Marie Tussaud).  Meredith studied drama as an Acting Apprentice with Vassar and New York Stage and Film’s Powerhouse Theater, where she played Susan in Vinegar Tom.  She recently graduated with her B.A. in Professional Writing from the University of Memphis.  As always, she is grateful for the love and support from her family and boxer pup, Bella.  Find her online at www.meritkoch.com.

Roman Kyle (Tom Robinson) TSC: A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Demetrius) and The Romeo and Juliet Project (Romeo).  He also appeared in As You Like It (LeBeau) at Theatre Memphis, Sarafina: The Musical (Crocodile) at Hattiloo Theatre, Blues for an Alabama Sky (Leland) at the University of Memphis, and All the Way (Stokely Carmichael) at Playhouse on the Square.  He recently finished production of an upcoming new comedy called The Drag Boat at Evergreen Theatre, playing the ship’s doctor, and a film titled I Think I Can be a Doctor (Darius/X-Ray Technician).

Harper Lee (Author) is the creator of To Kill a Mockingbird, the 1960 Pulitzer Prize-winning novel which provides the foundation for this approved stage adaptation.  Along with the recently-released Go Set a Watchman, the stories are woven from Ms. Lee’s life.  She was born Nelle Harper Lee on April 28, 1926, in Monroeville, Alabama, the youngest of four children of lawyer Amasa Coleman Lee and Frances Cunningham Finch Lee.  She didn’t use the name Nelle (Ellen spelled backwards) for her book because she didn’t want to be called Nellie. But her friends and family always called her Nelle (pronounced Nell).  President Obama, who presented her with the National Medal of the Arts in 2011, said “What that one story did, more powerfully than one hundred speeches possibly could, was change the way we saw each other, and then the way we saw ourselves. Through the uncorrupted eyes of a child, she showed us the beautiful complexity of our common humanity, and the importance of striving for justice in our own lives, our communities, and our country.  Ms. Lee changed America for the better. And there is no higher tribute we can offer her than to keep telling this timeless American story — to our students, to our neighbors, and to our children — and to constantly try, in our own lives, to finally see each other.”  Though she died earlier this year at the age of 89, Ms. Lee has said of herself, “I am still alive, although very quiet.”

Dan McCleary+* (Director; Narrator; TSC Founder and Producing Artistic Director) is a native Memphian and a graduate of Germantown High School and its Poplar Pike Playhouse.  Dan directed and acted in TSC’s inaugural production of As You Like It (Jaques) as well as 400: Shakespeare Feast, Unto the Breach, The Glass Menagerie, and The Taming of the Shrew.  He directed TSC’s All’s Well That Ends Well, Twelfth Night, Hamlet, The Tempest, Macbeth, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, all-female Julius Caesar, Othello, Complete Works of William Shakespeare (abridged), and Themes from a Midsummer Night.  He also has directed productions of As You Like It at Orlando Shakespeare Theater, The Servant of Two Masters outdoors in downtown Atlanta and at Seattle Shakespeare Company, and All’s Well That Ends Well at Georgia Shakespeare Festival.  At the Orlando Shakespeare Theatre, he directed the world premiere of The Stone Face and played the title roles in Antony and Cleopatra and Richard III, Brutus in Julius Caesar, Porfiry in Crime and Punishment, Petruchio in The Taming of the Shrew, and Falstaff in The Merry Wives of Windsor.  As Associate Artistic Director at Shakespeare & Company in the Berkshires, Dan acted in and directed over 30 productions, appearing as Coriolanus, Macbeth, Herman Melville, Stephano, Don Armado, Hotspur, Master Ford, Bertram, and Antipholus/Dromio of Ephesus.  He directed S&Co’s first production of The Servant of Two Masters, also his own adaptation of Anaïs Nin’s Henry & June, as well as Vita & Virginia, My Own Stranger, and The Fiery Rain.  Other regional theatre: Merrimack Rep, North Shore Music Theatre, Actors Theatre of Louisville, StageWest, Alabama Shakespeare, Arden Theatre, Studio 4-A, and Huntington Theatre.  Dan is a published poet, author of the play Quintessence, and teaches Shakespeare master classes around the country.  Memphis Magazine has named him among the “Who’s Who in Memphis” for four consecutive years, and the Germantown Arts Alliance honored him with its 2009 Distinguished Arts and Humanities Medal for Performing Arts.  He holds a B.A. in Advertising and Journalism from Temple University. 

Tony Molina, Jr.* (Reverend Sykes) is a proud founding member of TSC, seen previously in the title role in Macbeth, Bottom in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and the Dukes in As You Like It.  At Shakespeare & Company, he played Othello, Mercutio, and Dromio of Syracuse, in addition to many other roles.  At Swine Palace at LSU, he played Didi in Waiting for Godot, Oberon in Midsummer, and Belize in both Angels in America: Millennium Approaches and Angels in America: Perestroika.  Colorado Shakespeare Festival: Petruchio, Banquo, and Claudius in Hamlet.  Tulane Shakespeare Festival: Hamlet, Othello, Feste, and Autolycus, as well as many others.  He played the police captain on HBO’s Treme for two seasons, and he was also seen in eight episodes of True Detective.

Joshua Pearce (Jem) has performed in many Lausanne productions, including School House Rock Live, Jr. (Joe) and Beauty and the Beast, for which he received the Best Male Ensemble Actor award.

DeAnna Rowe (Costume Designer) is the Assistant Professor of Costume Design at the University of Memphis Theatre Department.  She received her M.F.A. in Costume Design from the University of Missouri, Kansas City.  She has taught at Allentown College of St. Francis DeSales, Ohio University, and The Art Institute of Hollywood, California.  DeAnna has worked from coast to coast.  Some of her favorite collaborations include South Coast Repertory Theatre in Costa Mesa, CA, The Laguna Playhouse, Missouri Repertory Theatre, Kansas City Ballet, American Players Theatre, Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival, Colorado Shakespeare Festival, and Glimmerglass Opera.  She recently worked with William Ivey Long Studios on the touring production of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella.  DeAnna is the owner and designer at Gypsy Dream Studios, where she designs and creates one-of-a-kind costumes to help her clients invoke their inner Superheroes and Unconventional Wedding Dreams.

Carolyn Spratley (Mrs. Dubose) In the past 29 years, she has been privileged to work in most of the theatres in this area.  A few of her favorite roles are Mrs. Holly in Suddenly Last Summer (TM/Little Theatre & McCoy), Ann in The Cocktail Hour (Circuit), Mrs. Tilford in The Children’s Hour (GCT), Felicity in The Shadow Box (McCoy), Grace in Grace and Glorie (GCT), Hannah in The Spitfire Grill (GCT), Sarah in The Quilters (GCT) and Bunny in A Murder is Announced (GCT). 

Patrick Ryan Sullivan* (Atticus Finch) Broadway credits include Julian Marsh in 42nd Street, Gaston in Beauty and the Beast, and various roles in Titanic.  Other favorites include Oberon in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Sweeney in Sweeney Todd, Serge in Art, Flynn in Doubt, LockStock in UrineTown, Tito in Lend Me a Tenor, Javert in Les Miserables, Higgins in both Pygmalion and My Fair Lady, Get Got at the Edinburgh Festival, Chicago in China, Victor in Empty Plate, The Burnt Part Boys, Petey in Tuna Christmas, and Miles and Senex in Forum.  www.PatrickRyanSullivan.org

J.D. Sutton* (Judge Taylor/Mr. Cunningham) is an actor and playwright whose credits include regional theatre, cabaret, and dinner theatre productions.  Favorite roles include Don Quixote in Man of La Mancha, Scrooge in A Christmas Carol, and the title role in Sherlock Holmes.  His solo play about Thomas Jefferson, Twilight at Monticello, has been presented off-Broadway and at venues throughout “the original 13,” including Philadelphia’s historic Carpenters’ Hall.  His most recent play, My Master, My Slave, My Friend, about Jefferson and the slave he was raised with, was named Critics’ Choice for Best Drama at this year’s Orlando International Fringe Festival. 

Erin Joy Swank* (Production Stage Manager) makes her TSC debut, capping a widely varied year including La bohème in a Spiegeltent (Crested Butte Music Festival), the musicals Crowns and My Fair Lady (Skylight Music Theatre), and Bach’s St. Matthew Passion (Central City Opera).  Previous credits include touring with the Radio City Christmas Spectacular – featuring the Rockettes and three adorable camels – and as Production Stage Manager for the Tennessee Rep.  She is a proud member of Actors’ Equity, the Stage Managers’ Association, and the United States Institute for Theatre Technology – which includes mentoring for the Gateway Program, connecting with students and young professionals from under-represented populations within the industry. 

Ann Perry Wallace (Calpurnia) is an actor and writer.  She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Theatre from UT Chattanooga and is a company member of the improv group, Playback Memphis.  Some of Ann’s other theatre credits include No Niggers, No Jews, No Dogs; Blues for an Alabama Sky; From the Mississippi Delta; The Death of the Last Black Man in the Entire World; Women in Shakespeare, and most recently Romeo and Juliet with TSC’s Education Program.  Ann can also be seen in the independent films 100 Lives, The Romance of Loneliness, and The Department of Signs and Magical Intervention.

Violet McKenna Kay Wallace (ensemble) makes her stage debut with To Kill a Mockingbird and was terribly worried that she would actually have to kill a mockingbird.  Her fears allayed, she accepted the role.

* member of Actors’ Equity Association, the Union of Professional Actors and Stage Managers in the United States.

+ member of the Society of Stage Directors and Choreographers, Inc., an independent national labor union.


At a Glance


the daring American masterpiece
adapted from Harper Lee by Christopher Sergel
directed by Dan McCleary
in partnership with The Hutchison School
sponsored by FedEx and Dorothy O. Kirsch
Wiener Theater at Hutchison School
September 20 – October 2
Produced under agreements with the professional entertainment unions: Actors’ Equity Association and The Stage Directors & Choreographers Society
Produced by special arrangement with Dramatic Publishing, Woodstock, Illinois.

The American classic that fought prejudice with integrity, courage, and a child’s compassion proved bigger than Monroeville, Alabama, the American south, and the United States.  With healing power and loving humor, Harper Lee’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel is here adapted for the modern professional stage in a world that has yet to take all of her life lessons to heart.  As poetic as it is prophetic, To Kill a Mockingbird and its literary icons Atticus Finch, Scout, Boo Radley, Tom Robinson, and Mayella Ewell offer hope and democracy to a hurting humanity.

Sept 20            Preview                       7:00 pm
Sept 23            Preview                       7:00 pm
Sept 24            Opening                      7:00 pm with post-show reception
Sept 25            Performance                2:00 pm
Sept 29            Performance               7:00 pm
Sept 30            Performance                7:00 pm
Oct 1               Performance                7:00 pm
Oct 2               Closing                        2:00 pm


Box Office Information

General Admission tickets are on sale now, Monday – Friday, 9:00 am – 5:00 pm at TSC’s office located within The Shops at Forest Hill at 3092 Village Shops Drive, Germantown, TN 38138 (near Target); by calling 901-759-0604, or by going on-line to www.tnshakespeare.org (Twitter: @tnshakespeare).

Ticket prices, unchanged from last season, are $34. Tickets for Preview performances are only $16.  The September 29 performance is Free Will Kids’ Night:  Children 17 years and younger are admitted FREE when accompanied by a paying/attending Guardian.  Senior tickets (62 years and older) are $29, and Student tickets (18 years and older) are $16 for any performance.  Opening Night on September 24 includes a complimentary post-show reception with the actors.  

Performances are general admission; first come/first seated.  Free parking.  No refunds or exchanges.  Credit card charges require a $1 per-ticket fee.  Cast and schedule are subject to change with notice.

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