Moonlight and Magnolias is based on the true story of how one of the most acclaimed movies of all time, Gone With the Wind, made the transition from blockbuster novel to motion picture masterpiece.
The facts are that in 1939, a mere three weeks into shooting, legendary Hollywood producer David O. Selznick shut down his production of Gone With the Wind, fired director George Cukor, who also happened to be one of his closest friends, and brought in two-fisted director Victor Fleming and famed screenwriter and script doctor Ben Hecht to save the picture.
Unfortunately, Hecht was one of the few people in America who had never read the novel. Plus he could only spare five days to turn Margaret Mitchell's 1,037-page novel into a 140-page script. Selznick's solution was for the three of them to stay locked in his office for five days to work non-stop on the script; subsisting on nothing but peanuts and bananas, which Selznick insisted was brain food, Selznick and Fleming acted out the novel for Hecht, who did the rewrites as they went along.
Of course, no one really knows what went on behind that office door during those five days, but playwright Ron Hutchinson has imagined a comic romp of epic proportions.
Kent County Theatre Guild
presents Ron Hutchinson's
Moonlight and Magnolias
directed by Chris Polo
May 4-5, 11-12, 18-19 at 8:00p
Sunday Matinee May 13 at 2:00p
The Patchwork Playhouse
140 E Roosevelt Ave, Dover DE
Ben Hecht..........Bruce Leister
Victor Fleming..........Mike Polo
David O. Selznick..........John Zinzi
Miss Poppenghul..........Patti Gatto
Production Assistant..........Melinda Daniel
Stage Manager..........Nancy Muller
140 E. Roosevelt Ave. / PO Box 783 / Dover, DE 19903 / 302-674-3568 / email: firstname.lastname@example.org
at the Patchwork Playhouse
Providing Quality Community Theatre
to Central Delaware Since 1953
The Characters: Some Facts
by director Chris Polo
Producer David O. Selznick -- born in Pittsburgh PA, his father was a distributor of silent movies. Only 37 years old in 1939. A brilliant, normally confident, maybe even grandiose, producer with a string of successes behind him, but one who is now desperate: if GWTW is a flop, it's the end of his career, plus the shut-down is costing his studio $50,000 a day.
Director Victor Fleming -- Born and raised in California, 51 years old in 1939. One of Hollywood's hottest directors at the time, he had a reputation as a man's director; his early silent films were mostly action flicks. For this production, think Ernest Hemingway on steroids. He's just been pulled off of directing The Wizard of Oz to take on GWTW, which he's not unhappy about, although he's less than thrilled when he learns that Hecht has never read the book, requiring Fleming and Selznick to act out such iconic scenes for Hecht as Melanie giving birth and Prissy's slapping scene.
Screenwriter Ben Hecht -- New Yorker, 43 years old in 1939. One of the most brilliant screenwriters of all time, Hecht never spent more than eight weeks on any one script, worked in every genre from action to romance to comedy, and was nominated for six Oscars, winning two of them. He was an early civil rights activist who organized campaigns against the Ku Klux Klan, and an ardent Zionist who worked to promote the Jewish state and to publicize what was happening to European Jews. This aspect of his personality comes forward during some serious moments in the play. He possesses a dry, acerbic wit and a decided nonchalance in the face of Selznick's dilemma. Furthermore, he's totally unimpressed by the movie fluff he's been brought in to rescue. He's given to weightier matters, such as the world going to hell overseas. He also knows he's the best there is, and that Selznick needs him more than he needs Selznick.
Miss Poppenguhl, Selznick's secretary -- I don't know yet if there actually was a Miss Poppenguhl or not. As Selznick's secretary, she is organized, efficient, probably rather formidable to anyone who shows up without an appointment, and knows all the answer to anything Selznick asks. She's deferential toward Selznick, the man who has the power to hire and fire on a whim and frequently does. She is in some ways a female yes-man -- her job is to gratify every desire on the part of her employer, and she's quite capable at providing that. She's not a sexpot; she's a real secretary, not a fake one, working for one of the most powerful men in Hollywood. Her aplomb gradually dematerializes as the week goes on; by the end of the week, she is a wreck along with everyone else. A small role, but a plum one.