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To Kill a Mockingbird’ to play out like an open book on Columbus stage

Courtesy of Jeff Wakefield and Ann Koval

“To Kill a Mockingbird,” a classic in American literature, is slated to come to life in Columbus.

SRO Theatre Company is scheduled to present a play adaptation of Harper Lee’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel 8 p.m. Friday at the Columbus Performing Arts Center’s Shedd Theater. The performance is scheduled to run through Nov. 11.

Director Mark Mann, who has been directing for 25 years, said “To Kill a Mockingbird’s” popularity connects people.

“If there is one thing that all Americans have in common, it would be familiarity with this book,” he said.

Mann said the book is one of his favorites, and he jumped on the opportunity to direct the play.

“(I) always wanted to do something with this story, whether it be acting or directing,” Mann said.

John Kuhn, a Ph.D. candidate in theatre at Ohio State, plays Atticus Finch, the town’s lawyer and father to Scout and Jem.

Josie Merkle, a Columbus native, plays the grown-up version of Jean Louise “Scout” Finch, the narrator and protagonist of the story.

Kuhn said he is looking forward to playing Atticus Finch, who tries his best to defend Tom Robinson, the black man accused of raping teenage Mayella Ewell. Although many people disagree with his character’s attempt to save Robinson from prison, Kuhn said, his character stood up for what he believed was right.

“It’s a great role,” Kuhn said. “What I love about it is that he embodies so much of what is good and right. He teaches good morals.

“Stories like ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ are important for us to hear and experience because they serve as great role models for us as far as what our own behaviors should be like.”
Kuhn called the book an American favorite said he loves the novel.

“It’s a very moving story. It is extremely engaging and important for us today because unfortunately the issues in this book are still being dealt with in society,” Kuhn said.
Merkle said the play should appeal to audiences because “the story is applicable to today due to racism.”

She said, however, those talking points are what she’s most excited about presenting through the performance.

“I love to make the characters come to life,” Merkle said. “I am most looking forward to bringing the whole experience of ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ to life. I (can’t) wait to tell the story to the audience.”

Tickets are $10 for students, $20 for adults, $17 for seniors and $15 for the morning performance, and can be purchased on SRO’s website. Shedd Theater is located at 549 Franklin Ave.

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