Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Theater Review: Moonlight and Magnolias

Last Friday night my friend Colleen and I attended the final performance of The Community Players 2008-2009 season - Moonlight and Magnolias. Neither one of us had heard of this show and we both intended to "google" it before the show, but both of us got busy. (Too much time blogging). We didn't have very high expectations because a friend of Colleen's had seen it and didn't have all that much to say about it. She did say the acting was good. Colleen and I even discussed the possibility of leaving during intermission if we weren't enjoying it. Well, I am happy to report that the acting was not only good is was fantastic and there was no need to leave early!

Moonlight and Magnolias tells the true story of the rewriting of the screenplay for the movie Gone With the Wind. Before I talk about the play itself I should mention that Gone with the Wind is my all time favorite movie. I absolutely love it. In addition, I read Gone with the Wind the summer between 8th and 9th grade and could NOT put it down. It is the first book I read that I loved and considered a favorite. I have such fond memories of sitting on my front steps throughout that summer with my nose in that book.

As for the play... Moonlight and Magnolias depicts how during the filming of the movie the producer, David O. Selznick, decided he had an unworkable screenplay. He convinces the journalist/screenwriter, Ben Hecht, to rewrite the screenplay - even though Hecht hasn't even read the book and is convinced a Civil War movie that glorifies the South will never make money. Selznick offers him an outrageous sum of money ($15,000. Remember this is 1939) and gets Hecht to agree to work on it for 5 days - no more. What ensues is the hilarious telling of how Selznick, Hecht and the new director Victor Fleming, who Selznick pulls off the set of The Wizard Oz, lock themselves in Selznick's office for 5 days and rewrite the screenplay. It is hilariously as Selznick and Fleming act out scenes from the book so that Hecht can write them. And all the while Hecht complains about how awful the book is and how corrupt the themes contained in the book are.

I absolutely LOVED this play. The actors were amazing. These were extremely difficult roles as there was a ton of dialogue and the three actors were on stage for the entire show. It was also a fairly rigorous production with lots of physical humor. Through the concerns of the journalist Hecht, I learned so much about the controversy surrounding the making of this movie. It was fascinating to look at Gone with the Wind (the book and the movie) through the lens of "political correctness". I've said this before and I'll say it again - The Community Players is the best kept secret in Rhode Island Theater. If you live in Rhode Island, I urge you to attend a show and see this for yourself. I don't think you will be disappointed.


Image from Google Images

10 comments:

Sandy said...

I'm sorry I missed it. Sounds like a wonderful story and a great production.

Tammy Howard said...

GWTW was my favorite (book and movie) for quite some time - then I sort of started thinking (too much) about the political incorrectness and it soured a little for me - this play sounds like something I would enjoy thoroughly!

Anita said...

It sounds like a great show, and production, so glad you were able to attend. You do such a nice job with these reviews Pam, you should really consider writing for the local paper..........I mean if that other critic needs help...LOL.

Kathy B! said...

I'm really wishing I lived in RI right about now...

This sounds fantastic. I am jealous that you have such wonderful community theatre.

Gamma Sharon said...

It sounds wonderful... I wish I could see it. It would take me to long to drive to RI. Lol
I'm glad you had a wonderful time!

Kay said...

no chance of getting to RI... but nice to know they did a great job.

I read the book when I was 14 and I loved it as well! Still haven't seen the movie yet....

shhh don't mock me, it is on my netflix list!

Pam said...

Sharon - If you ever decide to make the drive, let me know! I'll get you a ticket! LOL!

Anonymous said...

Pam,

I loved your review! It is spot on! I am so happy that we went to the show...I can't remember a time I enjoyed a play more. I am looking forward to next season.

Colleen

Pam said...

Colleen - Thank you. It was a great show. So funny! I can't wait for next season, either.

Amanda said...

I would like to see it after reading your review.

I had the same experience with GWTW as you did, except it was my junior year in high school. The book remains in my top three favorites and the movie is close to my heart also. I feel like it was my first "literary experience."

I was so infatuated with the book/movie that I read books on the writing of the book and the making of the film.

 

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