By Ron Hutchinson
Directed by Ron Giddings
Performance dates: June 8 - 30, 2012
Run time: 90 min, No intermission
It is 1939 and David O. Selznick, the legendary producer, has stopped production on his movie, Gone With The Wind. He has fired the director and scrapped the screenplay because the story is not being told the way he wants it to be. He pulls legendary director Victor Fleming off The Wizard of Oz and calls in legendary screenwriter Ben Hecht to rewrite the screenplay. They have just five days and there is just one little problem: Ben Hecht is the only person in America who has not read Gone With The Wind. Locked into Selznick’s office with only brain food (bananas and peanuts) to live on, the three men hilariously manage to pull it off. With Selznick and Fleming acting out the scenes page-by-page, Hecht fashions the new screenplay despite constant wrangling with Fleming and artistic differences with Selznick and Margaret Mitchell. You’ll love this rollicking comedy and you’ll never see the movie the same way again!
To download the production postcard for Moonlight and Magnolias to share with your friends, visit the Downloads page of our website.
About the Playwright
Ron Hutchinson, a native of Ireland and now a resident of Los Angeles, is a prolific writer with dozens of credits for stage and radio plays as well as movie and television scripts. He won an Emmy for his script for the television movie, Murderers Among Us: The Simon Wiesenthal Story. The inspiration for Moonlight and Magnolias came as he was reading an autobiography by Ben Hecht and was struck by the thought that “... this is classical farce. Can you Imagine? All the elements are there. Three individuals lock themselves in a room … in a total pressure cooker situation.”
About the Director
Ron Giddings -- Ron holds a BA from Loyola College of Maryland in Theatre and Writing and an MA in Arts Administration from Goucher College. In this area, he has directed shows for Colonial Players (Wonder of the World and their inaugural 24-Hour Project: Months on End), Annapolis Summer Garden Theatre (Crazy For You, Sweeney Todd, their 40th Anniversary Celebration and Urinetown: The Musical, which was awarded the Ruby Griffith Award for Overall Production Excellence in 2007), and Standing O Productions (On the Twentieth Century, The Retreat from Moscow, Counting the Ways and Mr. Marmalade). A former artistic director of CP, he is also the coordinator of their Pub Readings at Harry Browne’s. He recently directed Titanic: The Musical at Loyola College as part of a 100th year anniversary commemoration of the sinking of the ship. He will next direct Shipwrecked at Colonial Players next season. “Thanks to my parents, family and friends for being more supportive than I could ever express.”
Everyone knows the movie. I’ve seen it countless times, since it seemed to play on TNT every other weekend (alternating with Amadeus) throughout my youth. Vivien Leigh’s performance is one of legend, from casting to Academy Award. It is epically impressive in its size and scope, particularly for 1939. The Pulitzer-Prize winning book, which was unread by me prior to directing this show, really does hold up as a classic American novel 75 years later. But how many of you know the back story? The chaos behind the camera?
In February 1939, three weeks into the shooting of Gone with the Wind, David O. Selznick shut down production of what was the largest, most expensive movie of its day. Screenwriter Ben Hecht and director Victor Fleming were virtually held hostage for five days by Selznick, in order to create a new screenplay. The three subsisted on a diet of bananas and peanuts (brain food), with Hecht typing as Fleming and Selznick acted out all the roles. Whether the story is true or not, it makes good theater.
What makes this play particularly interesting is Selznick's struggle to make a blockbuster movie versus a political allegory. As one of the many great talents of Hollywood and a refugee from Europe, David O. Selznick was not taken seriously until Gone with the Wind became the most successful movie in the 30-year history of the town. The idea of making a movie about the Civil War while World War II loomed on the horizon provides a tense political undercurrent to the screwball comedic proceedings in the play. But mostly, it's good ol' slapstick fun on stage for a non-stop, ninety-minute thrill ride. Sit back and enjoy this dream factory farce about the creation of the most popular movie in the world. "Dreams, dreams always dreams with you, never common sense." Isn't that the way it should always be at the theater?
Michael Forgetta (David O. Selznick) -- Michael is new to The Colonial Players. He moved from Connecticut to Maryland in December, 2010, and it didn’t take him long to find a new “home.” Michael appeared at CP as a tourist in Lettice and Lovage. He is an award-winning actor and director and has worked on over 100 shows, doing most every job there is in theater. Some of his favorite shows as a director are: A Streetcar Named Desire, The Normal Heart, The Sound of Music, Fiddler on the Roof, Steel Magnolias, The Miracle Worker and Arsenic and Old Lace. Some of his favorite roles as an actor are: Mendel in Falsettos, Billy Flynn in Chicago, Geoffrey in The Lion in Winter, Dr. Lyman in Bus Stop and Max Bialystock in The Producers, which earned him a BroadwayWorld CT 2010 nomination for Best Actor. Michael is currently living in Columbia with his dog, Sally, but would really like to move to Annapolis (Does anyone have a house or condo to rent???). Michael will be directing a play in the Colonial Players One-Act Festival this summer and is directing Dracula for Bowie Community Theatre opening September 28. Michael thanks his family and friends back in Connecticut for their continued love and support, and he’d like to thank his new Maryland family and friends for making his new life so rich! Hey DC – 20 seconds of courage my friend...20 seconds of courage! Michael would like to say, “Hi Mom. I know you found me here in Maryland!”
Kaelynn Miller (Miss Poppenghul) -- Kaelynn is delighted to be appearing in her first non-musical since the age of 14 and in her second show on the Colonial Players stage. You may have seen her dancing and singing earlier this season as Meg March in Little Women, and she is glad this show does NOT involve corsets. However, she is glad that it does involve bananas, her favorite fruit. Around the theater, Kaelynn serves on the CP Board of Directors as secretary as well as on the Human Resources Committee as membership chair, and also enjoys costume designing (Company, Inventing van Gogh) and constructing (Mrs. California, Cinderella Waltz). Kaelynn graduated with a B.A. in Music from McDaniel College and spends her days working for an orchestral instrument accessory distributor (where she is, coincidentally, the only female employee). Special thanks to her family for everything (especially to her niece for just being so gosh darn cute), to Laurel and Karen for being the best roommates ever (current addresses notwithstanding), to the men of this cast just for being completely hilarious (and Ron, too) and to Wes for simply always being there (and dealing with the crazy).
Jim Reiter (Ben Hecht) -- Jim is having a great time with the new guy, the old guy, the Ron guy and the redhead. He most recently appeared down West Street as Becky’s husband, Joe the roofer, in Bay Theatre Company’s Becky’s New Car. Prior to that, he was seen as the profane, drunk amputee G.W. in Sordid Lives at Dignity Players, where he also has appeared as Reverend Hale in The Crucible and Brian in The Shadowbox directed by the esteemed and beautiful magnolia in the moonlight, Darice Clewell. At Colonial Players, Jim has played Scrooge in A Christmas Carol (2010, 2005), Dale, the profane (notice a pattern?) real estate wannabe, in Dog Logic (2010), Mr. Maraczyk in She Loves Me! (2009), Robert in Proof (2004) and Boolie in Driving Miss Daisy (1994). In 2008, Jim received the Outstanding Featured Actor Award from the Washington Area Theatre Community Honors for his multiple-character performance in Colonial’s Hauptmann, which also garnered awards for Outstanding Play, Director, and Lead Actor. At 2nd Star Productions in Bowie, Jim directed 1776, The Music Man, Once Upon a Mattress and How To Succeed in Business Without Really Trying. Other directing credits include Godspell, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat and Children of Eden with Bowie’s St. Pius X Youth Players. Jim also is preparing for a permanent new role he will begin playing in August: Grandpa (It’s a boy!). Love to Joe, new-Mom-to-be Kelly and new-bride-to-be Katie Rose.
Kevin Wallace (Victor Fleming) -- Kevin is happy to be back at Colonial Players. His recent shows at CP include Clean and The Lion in Winter. It was good to be King! He is pleased to be working with Mr. Giddings again after being directed by Ron in his latest performance as John in After the Dance. Kevin would like to thank Ron for the chance to play the role of Victor Fleming in Moonlight and Magnolias. Though blunt and rough around the edges, Victor is a fun, multi-dimensional character to play. (He reminds me of family members -- you know who you are). Kevin has been performing for the last 20 (or so) years in the Annapolis/DC /Baltimore area. “Many thanks to my family for their love and support, and a special thanks to my wonderful wife, Sandy. Much Love to my babies, Toby and Bella Joy.” Kevin's performance is dedicated to the loving memory of his Grandfather and Uncle Floyd; two polar opposites who were brash, brilliant and larger than life, like Victor Fleming.
The Production Staff
Wes Bedsworth (Sound Designer) -- Wes has worked on over 30 different productions at Colonial Players since he became involved (sold his soul to the theater gods?) in 2007. His favorites include Moon Over Buffalo, Kindertransport, Enchanted April, Mrs. California, The Diviners and Little Women. He won the 2010 WATCH award for outstanding sound design for Earth and Sky and has been nominated for best sound design for Hauptmann, Kindertransport and The Diviners. Wes serves as operations director on the CP Board, technical director on the Production Team and as one of the webmasters on the Marketing Team. Wes graduated with a B.A. from McDaniel College. When he's not doing electrical work, plumbing, fixing something broken or automating something at CP, Wes works as a senior systems engineer in Washington, D.C. (Editor’s Note: This is so he can afford to play at the theater in his free time). Wes also sings in two choirs at his church. He would like to thank his parents for their support in the form of a subscription to CP (and love), his sister Susan for occasionally putting up with her older brother and Kaelynn for allowing him to have a second love: playing with power tools at the theater. Thanks also to Ron and the cast of M&M for making this a hilariously funny show! Next up: The One-Act Festival so "I can work with The Amazing Karen Grim" and next year: producer and sound designer of 1776, the musical!
Elaine Claar (Costume Design) -- Elaine was born in Baltimore, moved to Anne Arundel County, raised three children and gained two more through marriage. She taught at Pasadena Elementary School, then went to Westinghouse where, after 26 years, she retired as a materials coordinator. She now enjoys traveling, sewing, gardening, attending her grandson, Ron Giddings's, productions and spending time with her other five grandchildren. She was the resident costumer at Standing O Productions, designing costumes for their productions of On the Twentieth Century, The Retreat from Moscow and Mr. Marmalade.
JoAnn Gidos (Properties Designer) -- JoAnn is delighted to be collaborating with Ron on this zany show. She has had a busy theater season supporting Lost in Yonkers, The Miracle Worker and Oliver! at Compass Rose Theater, Wit and Becky's New Car at Bay Theatre and The Spitfire Grill here at Colonial Players. “After over two decades designing props and decorating sets at a variety of local theaters, you might think you have seen it all, but peanuts and banana peels may even top an oversized Cheetos bag.”
Shirley Panek (Lighting Design) - Shirley has appeared many times on stage at Colonial Players, and Moonlight and Magnolias marks her second venture into the tech booth. Most recently audiences have seen her in Dignity Player's Almost Maine and, at Colonial Players, Little Women (Mrs. Kirk), The Unexpected Guest (Laura Warwick), Lettice and Lovage (Ms. Framer), Private Lives (Sybil Chase) and Dog Logic (Kaye). Shirley would like to thank Ron for giving her the opportunity to stretch her lighting design wings with an amazing cast. Love to Drew and Emma.
Beth Terranova (Producer) -- With the opening of Moonlight and Magnolias, Beth is sweeping up her figurative peanut shells after working six shows straight this season. Prior to producing Moonlight and Magnolias to cap off Colonial Player’s 63d season, Beth costumed Going to St. Ives, designed the set for The Spitfire Grill, produced Chapter Two, designed the costumes for Cinderella Waltz and acted in and assisted with costumes for Little Women. (Obviously her resolve to “back off a little” this year only lasted as long as The Unexpected Guest.) She has done a bunch of other stuff, too, which she has touted ad nauseum in her five previous bios this season and numerous bios before that. She wishes to spare CP’s loyal patrons yet another eye-roll-inducing litany, and instead takes this time to thank the dozens of fabulous production folks who worked tirelessly behind the scenes this season to “make shows happen.” “Please know that I admire and respect all of you, and I am so grateful for your support. Special thanks to Dick Whaley, Heather Quinn and Wes Bedsworth. I truly do not know how I would have gotten through this year without your help and advice.”
Bob Walker (Stage Manager) -- Bob is working on his second show in a row at Colonial Players after being in the tech booth running sound and light cues for Going to St. Ives. He also worked in the tech booth for Cinderella Waltz earlier this season and was a member of the stage crew two years ago for Earth and Sky. By day, he is a yacht broker for Tidewater Marina. “A big thanks to outgoing Human Resources Director Marguerite Jahns, who got me involved with Colonial Players. I think it started with something along the lines of, ‘Could you help out ushering? It’s just for a night or two?’ If it hadn’t been for that, I never would have met all the wonderful people who make this theater work.”