BY MIKE JAMES
THE DAILY INDEPENDENT
ASHLAND Already one of the most beloved 20th century American novels, “To Kill a Mockingbird” is on its way to adding a new generation of fans in northeast Kentucky.
Harper Lee’s now classic coming of age story about racism in a small Southern town is the local selection for the national literacy initiative the Big Read, which means several thousand of varying ages and backgrounds are reading it and coming together to discuss its still-relevant issues.
And the Paramount Players, the community theater group at the Paramount Arts Center, will bring the stage production of the novel to the theater this week.
Paige Fraley as Scout,Barry Dailey as her father, Atticus Finch, and Parr Thacker as Walter Cunningham are shown during the Paramount Players’ dress rehearsal of “To Kill a Mockingbird” on Wednesday.
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Mary Badham, the actress who in the 1962 movie version portrayed Scout, the youthful protagonist and narrator, will visit Ashland and speak to student and adult audiences about the novel.
It all was made possible by a grant to the Paramount by the Big Read, an initiative of the National Endowment of the Arts in partnership with Arts Midwest.
The initiative aims to entice lapsed and reluctant readers to rediscover the joy of books through community partnerships and complementary activities, said Melanie Cornelison-Jannotta, education and outreach director at the Paramount.
The Boyd County Public Library, which is the Paramount’s partner in the enterprise, has chosen the novel for its reading clubs, and the grant funded purchase of copies for club members and for area schools that are studying it in class.
“It’s a neat thing to be able to put the book in somebody’s hands,” Cornelison-Jannotta said.
Two art workshops conducted by Russell schools’ art teacher Jeremy Grizzle were filled to capacity, and some of the charcoal renderings from the workshops will be on display at the Paramount.
The Paramount also will host social-media discussions on three successive Mondays in February on its Facebook page, Cornelison- Jannotta said.
The Friday morning production for schools is sold out, and more than 1,500 students will see the Paramount Players on stage and meet Badham, who will deliver remarks before the show.
There are public performances today and Friday as well.
Badham also will be introduced and participate in a question-andanswer session before the Friday evening show and a meet and greet with the audience.
Today’s public performance will be at 7:30 p.m. and tickets, which are still available, are $20.
Tickets are $30 and also still available for the Friday public performance, with Badham’s keynote speech at 7 p.m. and the show following. Tickets are $2 extra the day of the show.
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