LAUREL HILL — Two busloads of Laurel Hill School students paid $16 per ticket to see The Alabama Shakespeare Festival’s “A Christmas Carol” Nov. 29 in Montgomery, Ala.


LAUREL HILL — Two busloads of Laurel Hill School students paid $16 per ticket to see The Alabama Shakespeare Festival’s “A Christmas Carol” Nov. 29 in Montgomery, Ala.



But asking them to pay $35 per ticket for a 2013 production of “To Kill a Mockingbird” is just too much, English teacher Mildred Strickland said.



Strickland is pricing tickets for either of two productions of the dramatic play, based on Alabama author Harper Lee’s acclaimed novel.



“We might go to Monroeville (Ala., Lee’s hometown) to see ‘Mockingbird,’” Strickland said. She won’t receive confirmation of her ticket reservation request until after January 2013.



“If we can’t get to see it in Monroeville, the Shakespeare Festival is doing it in May,” Strickland said.



However, she hopes a business could help underwrite some of the expense, given the lower income of some Laurel Hill families.



“I hate to ask these kids for that kind of money,” she said, referencing the $35 tickets. “It’s so expensive.”



Subsidizing students’ attendance would mean continued exposure to fine arts, which a number of students reportedly lack.



For many who attended last month’s production, it was their first experience with live theater, teachers said.



“Most of the kids had never seen a stage play,” Strickland said. “Some have been to the shows at O.W. (Northwest Florida State College), but it’s been several years since we took a group to a show. This is the first time we’ve taken them to Montgomery in six years because we could never get reservations.”



This attempt was successful, Strickland said, because she started working on getting reservations in June.



Among those meeting for early breakfast at the school and then piling on buses at 6:30 a.m. was 10th-grader Hope Standridge, whose acquaintance with the stage arts had been confined to dance performances.



Strickland’s students read the classic Charles Dickens novel and watched an old film version of “A Christmas Carol” to prepare for the trip, Hope said. She enjoyed contrasting the movie with the stage production.



The Geoffrey Sherman adaptation that students attended was “more technical” than a production the Hoboes attended six years ago, Strickland said. Stagecraft included a turntable that expedited scenery changes, sound effects and flashy costuming. A question-and-answer period with production staff enhanced students’ experience, Strickland said.



Afterward, the Hoboes had another treat: pizza at a restaurant before returning to Laurel Hill.



“They really enjoyed eating out,” Strickland said. “A lot of them don’t get that opportunity.”