BWW Reviews: Amusing Staging of MOONLIGHT AND MAGNOLIAS by Dramatic License Productions

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BWW Reviews: Amusing Staging of MOONLIGHT AND MAGNOLIAS by Dramatic License Productions

Playwright Ron Hutchinson has written a clever farcical comedy with his play, Moonlight and Magnolias, based on an actual event that occurred during the tumultuous production of the film Gone with the Wind. It may be true that producer David O. Selznick took extreme measures in order to get a screenplay produced, but unless you were a fly on the wall, the information presented here can only be considered fodder for laughs, since most of what is known about this occurrence is culled from biographies and Hollywood legend. Dramatic License has put together a splendid evening of entertainment with a fine staging of the fitfully funny work.

We'll probably never know for sure what happened when Selznick sequestered director Victor Fleming and screenwriter (and script doctor) Ben Hecht in his office for five days, but Ron Hutchinson gives us his take on the events that transpired, with the emphasis on humor. As the play unfolds, Fleming is being pressed into service to replace George Cukor, while Hecht, who hasn't even read the book, is asked to produce a script in five days. While Fleming and Selznick act out scenes from the book, in sometimes hilarious fashion, Hecht reluctantly types up action and dialogue, despite the fact that he hates civil war pictures and objects to the racist, “Old South” tone that pervades the novel. What they end up with is a classic, but you'd never guess it from their crazed interactions.

Kent Coffel does sharp work as Fleming, acting completely at odds with the man's man image that had been cultivated by and for him. Dean Christopher is also excellent as Hecht, trying to stick to his principles and still crank out a workable script. Dave Cooperstein is a bundle of energy as Selznick, and his verve helps to keep the action moving along at a decent clip. Maggie Murphy is also good as his long-suffering secretary, Miss Poppenguhl.c

Jason Cannon's direction milks this production for maximum laughs. And even if the truth has been stretched here and there, it's mostly due to the fertile imagination of the playwright. Becky Fortner's costumes evoke the era with subtlety, and Scott Schoonover has constructed a servicable office space for the antics to take place. Max Parilla's lighting keep the action clearly in focus.

This amusing trifle continues through November 11, 2012.

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Chris Gibson Chris has been active in the local theatre scene for over 30 years. In addition to his acting work, he's also contributed as a director, writer and composer. Though, initially a film buff, he grew tired of the sanitized, PG-13 rated blockbusters that were being continually shoved down his throat by the studios. An opportunity to review theatre in St. Louis has grown exponentially with the sudden explosion of venues and talent in the region. He now finds himself obsessed with witnessing those precious, electric moments that can only happen live, on stage.


 
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