‘To Kill A Mockingbird’ teaches evils of racism

By Ben Robinson, Courier Staff

A few shows remain for you to get a chance to catch Foothills Playhouse’s excellent production of “To Kill a Mockingbird.” The show is touching, but tackles society’s continuing problem of racism.

The theater was packed for Saturday night’s show, and I understand that Friday night was the same. With this week’s weather forecast, seats for the final three performances may take some arranging on the part of many. But the excellent production is worth the extra effort.

It was good to see a cast that included several African-Americans for this play. There’s really no choice, because the storyline demands such a cast, but each member of the cast demonstrated talent that was evident regardless of race. I look forward to members of the cast returning to the Playhouse stage for several other productions.

Reynaldo Roberts is excellent as accused murderer Tom Robinson. He keeps the focus on a young man fighting for his life, not giving in to the play’s obvious racial overtones. By the intermission, the audience is convinced not only of his innocence but also of Atticus Finch’s obvious victory on the case. So the entire theater is shocked when Tom, despite the evidence, is convicted.

Dale Youngs portrays Atticus Finch in the lead role of the play. Youngs does well in giving Atticus believable intelligence, yet making it evident that Atticus’ top priority is his two children. But Atticus wants to do more than take care of his children. He wants to set an example for them of how a person should face the increasingly difficult times in southern America.

That Youngs was equally convincing in the trial scenes and as the worried father of two children is a credit to him.

Scout is played as a child by Charlotte Rice and as an adult who narrates the story by Kay Cole. Cole adds emotion to the tale, supposedly looking back many years later. Her wisdom gathered from such a childhood is evident. Rice plays on the naivete of the child Scout, admiring her father no matter what she heard from the townspeople who often expressed their disappointment that Atticus was representing a black man.

Denton Carter plays Jem, Scout’s brother who often has to be the voice of reason around Scout. Carter does a good job of showing Jem’s concern but still allowing him to be a kid.

Scout’s friend Dill is played by Grantland Rogers. Dill adds another young voice to the play, but does not have to be as sensible as the slightly older Jem.

Sheriff Heck Tate is played by Thomas Pounds. The sheriff developed an uneasy relationship with Finch, wanting to do justice but dealing with the unrest in the small southern town of Maycomb, Ala.

Maurice Reed, who once dazzled the Foothills stage as the music man, portrays Judge Taylor, who wants to assure a fair trial.

The main villain in the play is Bob Ewell, portrayed by Carl Gingola.

Gingola does a good job of making Ewell scared that his crime will be discovered, that he — not Tom Robinson — beat his daughter, Mayella, on that fateful night. Shannon Duke plays Mayella, who tries to hide the fact that she tried to seduce Robinson by accusing him of a crime. Her being cross-examined by Atticus was an emotional scene.

Donna Duffie adds balance to the cast as Maudie, who supports Atticus despite his unpopular stance.

The entire cast was excellent in their roles. Director Owen Robertson did a tremendous job of putting together a talented cast to tell such a complex story.

In all, “To Kill A Mockingbird” is an entertaining two hours on the stage that points out the foolishness and danger of racism even today.

Don’t miss your chance to enjoy this play. It will run Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sunday at 3 p.m.

Tickets are $14 for adults, $12 for seniors ages 60+ and students ages 13+, and $7 for children. To buy tickets, visit, call (864) 855-1817 or email