I apologize in advance for using this column to shamelessly promote an event in Salem. My granddaughter Molly is appearing in the stage version of Harper Lee’s famous novel, To Kill a Mockingbird, produced by Salem’s Pentacle Theater through June 21. Molly is only 10 years old, but she is an accomplished actress playing the lead role of Scout in this really great production of a very moving play.
My wife and I joined my sister and her husband in attending the play a couple of weeks ago, and I was surprised by how the play affected me and less surprised at my pride in Molly’s performance. Molly described the production in a recent radio interview as “super powerful,” and I don’t think I could come up with a more apt summary. It is, of course, doubly powerful to me because my granddaughter is getting a great opportunity to excel at something she loves.
Molly’s interest in theater has inspired me to attend all of her performances, ranging from backyard productions to highly professional stage shows. I have enjoyed them all and been reminded once again that these mostly volunteer enterprises enrich our communities and our lives. Art gives us the chance to understand things we might otherwise miss, and community theater is one way of making art accessible to all of us.
I have also been impressed with the bond that develops among the cast and crew of a stage play. Molly is playing opposite a Salem attorney of roughly my generation, and it’s obvious they have a high regard for one another. According to Molly, “He rocks.” The show’s director didn’t catch my name when we were introduced, so I told her she could just refer to me as Molly’s grandfather. That remark prompted some high praise for Molly and a glowing assessment of her future. I share the title of grandfather with my daughter-in-law’s dad, a former Salem city councilor and dedicated Beaver fan, whose pride in Molly clearly rivals mine. I have been forced to learn tolerance in so many different ways.
My sister really enjoyed the play as well, and I think her interest was enhanced when she noticed that one of the cast members had the same name as her high school English teacher. My sister approached the lady after the show and found that she really was her former teacher. They shared a brief reunion and summary of their activities over the past 47 years. Art brings us together in many different ways.
I liked this play so much that I’m going to see it again this week, and I would encourage anyone who is still thinking about a Fathers’ Day gift to consider tickets to one of the remaining performances. Tickets can be purchased online at the Pentacle Theater website and a show has been added on Tuesday, June 17 to accommodate demand. To Kill a Mockingbird is a great learning experience in many different ways.