Theater Review: 'Moonlight and Magnolias' at the Golden Apple Theatre

 
 

 

If you’re a big “Gone with the Wind” fan or you’re always up for an insider’s peek into 1930s Hollywood subculture, you should see this play. The playwright, Ron Hutchinson, who wrote the slapstick comedy in 2004, based it on actual events that transpired behind the scenes of filming the epic novel, which went on to become one of the most popular movies of all time.

Essentially a farce with teeth, the script comes up a little toothless at times, and fails to become a truly effective and pointed satire, more “Three Stooges” than “The Marx Brothers”. Hutchinson endeavors to delineate the creative triangle behind the art of filmmaking: the innate conflict between the producer, the director, and the writer. The producer wants to make money and chooses a product, which in his view, will sell the most tickets; the director wants to employ his own vision and movie magic to make something that will look fantastic on the screen; the writer wants to write a piece of lasting artistic merit that will have something important to contribute to humanity. These three motivators frequently oppose one another.

That dynamic is still in effect today, and in the ’30s and in this play, is illustrated by the three main characters, all giants of their crafts in the at the time: Producer, David O. Selznick, played by Chris Caswell; director Victor Fleming, played by Ryan Kimball Fitts, and Writer, Ben Hecht, played by B. J. Wilkes. These three actors do a fantastic job of representing three men stuck in a room together for five days on a diet of bananas and peanuts in order to fix a script which two of them haven’t even read. The situation is intrinsically funny, and director Carole Kleinberg livens it up with a lot of slapstick and mincing about by Kimball Fitts and bemoaning his task on the part of Wilkes. Caswell sympathetically defends the most often maligned role of mercenary producer. The production is amusingly punctuated by the ironic mugging of Alana Opie, who is very funny as the stereotyped female assistant.

IF YOU GO
"Moonlight and Magnolias" runs through June 10 at the Golden Apple Dinner Theater. Tickets are $13.50. Call 366-5454.

 

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