The Moorestown Friends School production of To Kill a Mockingbird took place March 11-12. The show brought several new faces to the MFS stage, as a large number of the plays lead roles were filled by students who hadn’t previously been in a high school production. Seniors Michael Keller and Travis Benedict, as well as junior Matthew Knowlton all portrayed important characters and had no previous acting experience.
Keller played the lead male role of Atticus Finch. With no serious play experience,, Michael originally went out for the play as a way to spend time with his friends during his senior year.
“I wouldn’t say there was one factor in particular that made me want to take part in the show but I’ve always had in interest in the entertainment industry and since it’s my last year here I figured I might as well do something to make it more memorable.” When asked if he expected to actually land the lead role of Atticus, Keller said, “Not really I just tried to give it my all at the audition and hope for the best. It turned out well for me so I’m glad that I went in with the mindset that I could do it because that helped a lot.”
Keller also attributes much of his success to Director Angela Wertner and offered some advice to those who may be interested in acting.
“Considering this was the first production that I’ve done I really had to learn everything about theatre, all the things you have to do, and even all the words you need to know to make sure things run smoothly. She was really good at laying everything out and making things easy for a first time actor. To anybody who’s thinking about doing the play, definitely go for it. Get a group of friends together, it’s something to do after school if you’re bored. It’s really cool to be able to say that you’ve done that and it feels great to hear the applause at the end of the show.”
Travis Benedict, who played Tom Robinson, was similarly inspired by his friends to sign up for the play.
“Of course I’ve read the story before and I really like it and I wanted to be Tom Robinson, but Mike was doing it, Alexis, Natalia and a few more of my friends were too, so I decided to give it a shot.” Benedict went on to add that memorizing lines was easier than he expected. “Being my first show I felt like the memorization went pretty smoothly. I didn’t have too much to learn but it wasn’t bad. I spent a lot of time going over the book and then practicing with other people.”
Matthew Knowlton was also new to the stage.
“I always wanted to be an actor and do the school plays. But my friends that do the play really pressured me to sign up, they said it would be a fun experience and they were right.” Knowlton also spoke highly of Mrs. Wertner. “I loved working with her. She was always energetic, no matter how late it was, and she made the play fun for me. She was a big help with notes on how to improve my acting and movement. She is a great director.”