Theatre Macon has a hit on its hands

Arts / Article

“To Kill A Mockingbird” has been held over through Nov. 2 at Theatre Macon. Photo by Amy Maddox-Nicholson

Theatre Macon’s current production of “To Kill a Mockingbird” was set to close on October 26, but due to overwhelming demand, the show has been extended for two more nights. Tickets are now available for additional performances on November 1 and November 2.

“When I chose it, I expected it to do well,” said Jim Crisp, Theatre Macon’s artistic director. But he never expected it to sell out almost every night.

“We have never sold out an opening weekend before and continued to sell out almost every show. Wednesday’s performance was the only one that lagged, and we still had 140 or so people,” he explained. “I am very pleasantly surprised by the success.”

There are some unique aspects to Theatre Macon’s version of “To Kill a Mockingbird” that might account for the unprecedented demand. Crisp explained, “I also think it does have something to do with the production. Every actor fits their role beautifully.”

The aspect that stands out most is the inclusion of a gospel choir as a Greek chorus. The choir is comprised mostly of a single gospel choir, the Total Praise Singers, that auditioned as a group, along with a handful of other singers who auditioned separately. The effect of the choir’s inclusion has been a source of significant of word-of-mouth advertising.

“I wanted that sound, that presence of black voices,” explained Crisp. “Otherwise this play too easily becomes about white people and left out is the black community. It’s one of the things our audience members are really responding to and it reminds the audience who and what this story is really about.”

The choir, along with live instrumental music, is used to elevate the emotional pitch of certain scenes.

“We’ve also done some creative things on a small budget, with lighting, with Kevin on Harmonica, which really weaves one scene into the next. It’s a very total experience of performance with live actors, live music, and live singing. And also, the intimacy of our theatre plays a part. The audience feels as if they are in that courtroom.”

Theatre Macon&squot;s production of "To Kill A Mockingibird" Photo by Amy Maddox-Nicholson

Theatre Macon’s production of “To Kill A Mockingibird.” Photo by Amy Maddox-Nicholson

Crisp feels that this approach helps highlight important issues that are still being debated on the national stage.

“It highlights the national conversation we are continuing to have about race right now,” he explained. “It reminds us what is at stake when we talk about equality.”

It’s clear that several pieces have fallen in place to make Theatre Macon’s production of “To Kill a Mockingbird” and unprecedented success. Crisp says he’s just trying to enjoy the moment and get to work on the next production.

“It’s a mountain top experience for all of us. For right now, we just enjoy the moment and realize that we are making memories. It’s truly marvelous.”

Tickets are available online for the two additional performances on Friday and Saturday.

Theatre Macon: 438 Cherry St., Macon; 478-746-9485; www.theatremacon.com