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Local kids light up the stage

Mainstage’s ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ includes two local children playing the main children

One of the bestselling novels of all time, Harper Lee’s “To Kill A Mockingbird,” comes to Gloucester Township at Dennis Flyer Theatre in Lincoln Hall at Camden County College from Friday Feb. 8 to Sunday, Feb. 10.

Mainstage Center for the Arts is preparing for its 27-member cast to perform the American classic that details the story of racial injustice in southern Alabama during the 1930s from the perspective of 8-year-old Scout Finch.

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Directors Nick Zaccaria and Marge Triplo have been working for weeks to ensure the performance is authentic, which they believe they can pull off after having directed this production many times in the past.

Zaccaria and Triplo previously worked together years ago at Edgewood Regional High School to perform “To Kill A Mockingbird,” then working only with teenagers. However, the cast in this upcoming performance with Mainstage ranges from the ages of 10 to 74, while also combining the talents of both established and newer actors.

Especially in today’s world, both believe this play can serve as a lesson to those in the community and across the country.

“Unfortunately, the issues here are ongoing in society in some ways by some members of the population,” Triplo said. “I think it serves as a reminder to all of us of our humanity and how we look at each other, how we label each other. It reminds us of how we should treat each other.”

“The part that I like is the fact that, as in today’s society, the children are more understanding and perceptive than the adults are,” Zaccaria said. “The main children in this show learn to deal with that reality, but they still have that compassion that the adults lose as they get older.”

The main children in the story, Jem and Scout Finch, are played by Michael Thompson, of Sicklerville, and Sophia Donato, of Gloucester Township. Both are performing in their first larger roles with Mainstage.

Thompson, who will turn 13 a few days before the show opens, has performed in Mainstage’s Summer Stage program and says he is strong in both musicals and dancing, so the opportunity to be in this show is helping him strengthen his acting skills.

He watched the movie to help prepare for his role as Jem Finch and is excited for the show to open.

“I’m really excited to do this play because it’s a step up from everything I’ve done before,” Thompson said. “Going on this stage is going to be a huge thing for me because I’ve never done anything like this before.”

Donato says she is also excited to perform and has been able to learn about what life was like decades ago. Most importantly, though, she says she’s just enjoyed being able to continue acting in this way and be involved with the cast.

“I like how Atticus teaches his kids to be courteous and fair,” Donato said. “Also, I’m having a lot of fun at rehearsals and enjoying the time with the other kids.”

Mainstage Center for the Arts’ ‘To Kill A Mockingbird’ will run from Friday Feb. 8, to Sunday Feb. 10. Friday and Saturday shows will be at 7 p.m. and Sunday’s show will be at 2 p.m. at Camden County College. Ticket prices are $18 for adults and $15 for senior citizens and children under 12 years old.

Tickets can be purchased by visiting www.mainstage.org or calling (855) 936–2467.

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