No one would say Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird is a kids’ story. And yet the lead actor in this Academy award-winning tale is a child, a young girl named Scout. Frankly, I never understood Lee’s choice of placing children in this dramatization of a violent crime. Obviously, her treatment of this classic novel worked, as To Kill a Mockingbird is still popular today and has been chosen as a novel to be read by communities and high school classes since its publication in 1960. Spoiler alert! This post is full of trivia about one of the greatest stories ever written by an American author. The novel was based on an episode in Harper Lee’s own life. Her father, Amasa Lee, was a lawyer whose 1923 defense of a black client inspired the novel's trial. Amasa Lee became the model for Scout’s father, attorney Atticus Finch, played by talented actor Gregory Peck. Supposedly after being offered the part of Atticus Finch in the film version, Peck read Lee’s novel in one sitting and called the director to say he would play the part. His nine-minute summation speech during the trial scene was nailed in one take. Peck was an accomplished actor. He was nominated for Best Actor in The Keys of the Kingdom (1944); The Yearling (1946); Gentlemen’s Agreement (1947); Twelve O’Clock High (1949). He finally won the Oscar in 1963 for Best Actor in To Kill a Mockingbird. Peck met with Harper’s father, Amasa Lee, who was then 82 years old during filming. The two became friends. Unfortunately Amasa Lee died during filming. Harper gave Peck his watch and chain. Peck was wearing that same watch and chain at the Academy Awards the following year when he won the Oscar for Best Actor. You can see this beautiful story told again when the University of Saint Francis’ School of Creative Arts stages To Kill a Mockingbird. The play will be directed by Brad Beauchamp and will be held at USF Performing Arts Center, which is at the former Scottish Rite Center at 431 W. Berry St. in downtown Fort Wayne. Dates of performances: April 5-7 and 12-14. Friday and Saturday shows are at 8 p.m. and Sunday shows are at 2 p.m. Admission is $15 for the general public, $12 for seniors and children under 10 years of age. Tickets can be purchased online at http://usftokillamockingbird.eventbrite.com/ or by calling the box office at (260) 797-1699. Group discounts are available.