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Moonlight and Magnolias

a Comedy
CATEGORY :
by Ron Hutchinson

COMPANY : Alliance Theatre Company [WEBSITE]
VENUE : Woodruff Art Center [WEBSITE]
ID# 1385

SHOWING : September 14, 2005 - October 09, 2005

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PRODUCTION DESCRIPTION

So, what happens when Hollywood's biggest movie needs a script doctor? In this comedy, David Selznick, Victor Fleming, and Ben Hecht try desperately to make Hollywood Gold out of, well, out of the most popular book in the world.


CAST & CREW LIST
Fight Choreographer Jason Armit
Click to Submit Cast & Crew Info for this production
REVIEWS

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Politics and Sausage
by Dedalus
Tuesday, September 27, 2005
4.0
People who enjoy politics and sausage (or so the old joke goes) should never watch them being made. Thanks to Ron Hutchinson’s comedy “MOONLIGHT AND MAGNOLIAS,” we can now add “People who like ‘Gone With the Wind’” to this.

FADE IN

The Studio Lot Bungalow/Office of Producer David O. Selznick.
Off-camera is trusty Gal Friday Miss Poppenghul.
Selznick and “Script Doctor” Ben Hecht are face-to-face, mid-argument.
Selznick is shocked.

Selznick: You’ve never read the book?
Hecht: I’ve never read the book.

{Insert here 105 minutes of desperation as Selznick pulls director Victor Fleming off “The Wizard of Oz” to help him and Hecht come up with a new screenplay for “Gone With the Wind,” a property only Selznick has any faith in. Add a bajillion reams of paper arranged in piles and drifts, a bushel of bananas, and enough peanuts to bankroll a Carter Presidential campaign. For flavor, add some Intelligentsia vs Mass Market commentary, some Hollywood Dishing, some goofy re-enacting, and a lot of laughs. End with four exhausted actors and one soon-to-filmed classic.}

FADE OUT

What I really liked about this play was how it used the sort of crisp dialog and pacing found in actual Ben Hecht screenplays (think “His Girl Friday”). The “serious political” bits in Act Two don’t really slow down the pace, and the attitudes of Fleming and Hecht reflect the mindset of those of us who never really liked “GWTW.” But, Selznick’s obsession and vision are no different than any other artist who has a definite goal and is willing to coerce, bribe, and bully anyone he needs to help him achieve that vision. What I liked was the tacit implication that anything can be turned into art if it comes with that kind of inner fire.

Thomas Sadoski as Selznick is absolutely dead-on in all his choices. I believed that he was a man who could browbeat these heavy-duty collaborators, artists in their own right, to buy into his vision. This is not to downgrade the other performances. “Remember WENN” fans will be happy to see that Kevin O’Rourke is live and in town as Victor Fleming. Local actor Tess Malis Kincaid pulls off the thankless role of Miss Poppenghul with humor and panache (yes, there do seem to be an unlimited number of line readings for “Yes, Mr. Selznick.”) David Pittu’s Ben Hecht is also good, competently showing us a man being lead down the Sell-Out path without losing his integrity.

If I had to complain about anything, it would be about the character of Hecht. We are constantly told that he is Hollywood’s best “script doctor” and Selznick is obsessed with keeping him on the payroll. But we never really see him come up with any good lines or ideas. His function in the script seems to be only to take down the ideas Selznick and Fleming come up with. But, since the structure of the play is Selznick and Fleming acting out the book for Hecht’s benefit, this can, in the end, be forgiven.

Yes, “Moonlight and Magnolias” is lightweight stuff. But I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again – lightweight stuff has its place, and can be invigorating when it’s done right. This one is done right!

-- Brad Rudy (BKRudy@aol.com)
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