Barter Theatre's DON'T CRY FOR ME, MARGARET MITCHELL to Open 1/31
Barter Theatre opens its 2014 Season next week with a comedy that goes behind the scenes of one of the greatest movies of all time. "Don't Cry for Me, Margaret Mitchell" is the true story of how three sleep-deprived men (and one very overworked secretary) had just seven days to save the movie "Gone With the Wind." Can they rewrite an entire movie script in one week - before they all go bananas?
Barter Theatre's "Don't Cry For Me, Margaret Mitchell" begins January 31st at Barter Stage II, followed shortly by the musical "Man of La Mancha" beginning February 13th at Barter's Main Stage. A full schedule of performances is available on BarterTheatre.com, and patrons still have an opportunity to purchase Season PassBooks for the maximum savings on tickets. Barter's PassBooks are popular for their flexibility as well as the savings they offer - unlike many subscriptions, Barter's PassBooks allow patrons to choose their preferred date and seat, and even give away tickets as gifts!
In "Don't Cry for Me, Margaret Mitchell," it's spring 1939, and the public is eagerly anticipating the release of "Gone With the Wind." Actors are on set; cameramen are standing by, and the bills are piling up for one of the most expensive movies ever made. The only problem? The script is a stinker!
Legendary Hollywood producer David O. Selznick grabs his new director Victor Fleming, famed scriptwriter Ben Hecht and his loyal secretary Miss Peabody, and locks himself and them in his office, ordering cases of bananas and peanuts for "brain food" until they have a new script. To make matters even more complicated, Ben Hecht has never read the novel, so Selznick and Fleming frantically act out key scenes while he types.
It's a wild and exhilarating ride as Selznick and his team race to meet their deadline and save the epic movie from becoming an epic flop. A comedy, "Don't Cry for Me, Margaret Mitchell" celebrates not just the effort, but the enormous risk that goes into creating a great work of art. It's one of the things that appealed to Barter's creative team when they selected the play, according to director Katy Brown.
"Selznick really was losing money every day; the pressure was truly mounting, and all signs pointed to very real failure. But they succeeded - wildly succeeded! That kind of success in the face of impossible risk is what we celebrate every time we push ourselves beyond what we think we can do," Brown says.
"Don't Cry For Me, Margaret Mitchell" is a fitting kick-off for the 2014 Season for two reasons, one of which Barter could not have anticipated when it planned the schedule. Not only does 2014 mark the 75th anniversary of "Gone With the Wind's" release, but Barter marks a more personal milestone with the passing of co-playwright V. Cate earlier this month. Barter dedicates this production to the memory of V. Cate and will celebrate her life and work with a presentation held in her honor immediately prior to the February 8th performance.
Playwrighting team V. Cate and Duke Ernsberger are known for their fast-paced comedic dialogue and surprising plot twists that leave their characters scrambling to keep out of trouble. Over the years they have produced some of Barter's biggest hits. Of their comedy "A Visit From Scarface" in 2013, the Bristol Herald-Courier wrote "if this one doesn't make you laugh, snortle or at least giggle into your hankie, pinch yourself. You are probably dead." V. Cate was 99 years old when she passed, and she completed her final play, the comedy "Hollywood Confidential," just last year. Barter is honored to be producing the world premiere of "Hollywood Confidential" in fall 2014.
"Don't Cry For Me, Margaret Mitchell" received its world premiere as part of Barter's Appalachian Festival of Plays and Playwrights in 2006, followed by a successful run at Barter the following year. The Bristol Herald-Courier wrote "The dialogue is fast, snappy and non-stop and Poisson's 60-second version of "Gone with the Wind" is worth nearly the price of admission by itself." This year's production is sponsored by CenturyLink, with media sponsorship from Out 'N About Magazine, and WKPT-TV.
Past V. Cate and Duke Ernsberger productions at Barter have included "Elvis Has Left the Building," "Dracula Bites," "Losing Patients," and "Sherlock Holmes and the Christmas Goose."
Barter Associate Artistic Director Katy Brown directs a cast of popular Barter actors in "Don't Cry for Me, Margaret Mitchell." Michael Poisson and Mary Lucy Bivins reprise their roles from the 2007 production as David O. Selznick and Miss Peabody. These two long-time Barter Resident Acting Company members are known for their comedic roles; most recently Poisson as the befuddled gangster in "Kiss Me, Kate," and Bivins as the busy-body Ozella in "Southern Fried Funeral." Nicholas Piper, who plays the screenwriter Ben Hecht, was just seen in December as the adult Ralphie in "A Christmas Story." David Alford plays Victor Fleming, after a recent comedic turn as the General Patton-inspired GenerAl Harrison Howell in "Kiss Me, Kate."
The screenplay of "Gone With the Wind" went on to win an Academy Award, and the film is the most-watched of all time, so it's clear the team succeeded. But with the odds stacked against them, we can't help but ask how? Don't miss the chance to see how the artists worked when everything was on the line.