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Theatre Guild Opening an American Masterpiece

The Vero Beach Theatre Guild will open the fourth production of their 60th Anniversary Season with the Pulitzer Prize winning “To Kill A Mockingbird” on Thursday, March 8.

Based on Harper Lee’s world renowned book and dramatized by Christopher Sergel, the play is set during the Great Depression of 1935, where racial tensions are high in Maycomb, Alabama. Nonetheless, young Jean Louise Finch -- or Scout, as she is fondly called, played by Tori Hallsten -- manages to live a rather carefree, privileged existence, insulated from issues of race. All that changes when Scout watches her father, Atticus Finch played by Don Croteau, defend an innocent man, Tom Robinson portrayed by Samuel McDuffe, against a potential death sentence, which looms threateningly against him because of prejudice due to race.

Scout begins to realize that just because society portrays something as being true doesn’t mean that it actually is fact. With the help of Atticus and her older brother Jem played by Jonathan Velazquis, Scout learns that “growing up” often means doing what is right, even when it comes at great cost.

As the director of this Pulitzer Prize winning masterpiece, Jon Putzke says he is humbled by the honor bestowed upon him to bring this American classic to life. “Actors came out in droves to audition for the coveted 22 roles the script requires. They came from Melbourne, Pt. St. Lucie and all points in between. Audiences will see a lot of new faces on our stage as well as our own tried and true performers. The entire ensemble has been a dream to work with and they have given me this incredible opportunity to meet the challenge of bringing the very best production possible to you.”

Putzke went on to say, “A piece of theatre is a moment in time that we share and will never be repeated again exactly the same way twice. That is the beauty of live theatre and Mockingbird brings us together and challenges us to become more compassionate toward all mankind.”

Others in the large cast include Tina Cookson, Shara Kyles, Nancy Stiefel, Mary Moriarty, Milo Hasslah, Blaze Welsh, Susan Grandpierre, Bill Floyd, Jerry Nashel, Larry Strauss, David Eales, Libby Baylinson, Jack Stiefel, Phil Markley, Barry Wood, Jonnie May Perry, Frank Kesterman and Percy Perry.

The production is being directed by Guild President Jon Putzke with Art Pingree as Assistant Director. Sarah Morley is producer and Lisa Keeler, assisted by Phillis Rock, stage manages the production. The set and lights have been designed by Jon Putzke, Shawn Webber and Robin Volsky. Greg Squire is director of sound with Marlys Kauten designing costumes and Ann McCabe in charge of props. Madelyn Rogers will oversee make-up and Colleen Brennan serves as Board Liaison.

Performances of this American masterpiece about the power of childhood innocence, morality, and love at its very heart will continue through March 25. Tickets can be purchased at the theatre box office, 2020 San Juan Avenue Mondays through Fridays 10 am to 2 pm and one hour prior to each performance or by phoning 772-562-8300 with Visa, MasterCard, Discover or American Express. Additional information and reservations can be found online at the Guild website at

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