Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Frankly, This Is One Damn Funny Play You Don't Want To Miss--"Moonlight And Magnolias"

What happens when three Hollywood types, who respectfully despise one another and flaunt egos as big as a southern plantation, get locked in an office room for five days subsisting on bananas and peanuts? Oh, let's throw into the mix an overworked, somewhat ditsy secretary. For the answer, schedule a night out at the James F. Dean Theatre from January 16-25 for a viewing of the Flowertown Players latest presentation of "Moonlight and Magnolias."

The title, "Moonlight and Magnolias," was derived from the scene where Scarlett, after fashioning a dress made from green velvet drapes, visited imprisoned Rhett Butler in Atlanta in an attempt to get money from him to pay taxes on her home, Tara. She claimed to have everything she could hope for and "not a care in the world." Rhett noticed her hands, calloused from working in the crop fields, and knew she was lying and said, "You can drop the moonlight and magnolia, Scarlett! So things have been going well at Tara, have they?"

In this wacky farce, a highly paid script doctor and Jewish activist by the name of Ben Hecht and a demanding, volatile director by the name of Victor Fleming are voluntarily accosted by the highly dramatic David O. Selznick to hammer out a new script for the production of his recently stalled epic, "Gone With The Wind."

The problem: Hecht has not read the 1,037 page "big book" by Margaret Mitchell. The solution: Fleming and Selznick decide to act out some of the more important scenes for Hecht, so he can type out the dialogue for the script.

At times reminiscent of the "Three Stooges," the play touches on some of the more controversial issues of the day, which eventually leads to a situation where the three of them get entwined in a hilarious confrontation over the scene where Scarlett slaps Prissy, a young slave-girl. Hecht doesn't like it, Fleming has no problem with it. Fleming was rumored to have slapped Judy Garland while directing "The Wizard of Oz," which is brought up from time to time by Hecht during their incarceration.

Director Chrissy Eliason, over her many years with the Flowertown Players, has established a well deserved reputation for bringing together the perfect cast partnered with beautifully detailed sets, and with "Moonlight and Magnolias," she added another accent mark to that reputation. From props to costumes, Chrissy and her crew coordinate creative chaos on a set that will each night end up looking like an explosion in a paper mill.

Chad Estel as Ben Hecht and Daniel Rich as Vic Fleming were comically confrontational throughout. Chad's funniest moments came while agonizing over a typewriter distressingly pounding out the infamous script and Daniel's was the comical imagery of Vic laying on the floor mimicking Melanie Wilkes having a baby. David McLaughlin portrayed the dramatic and determined to preserve the integrity of the book David O. Selznick with Emmy flair and Hannah Weston as Selznick's compliant secretary immersed in a ocean of Hollywood machismo was delightful--ditsy accent included.

Frankly, this is one damn funny play. It is hands down the funniest I have seen at the James F. Dean Theatre in Summerville. It was masterfully directed and superbly entertaining. You will go bananas over "Moonlight and Magnolias."

Purchase tickets here.

I attended the "Friends and Family" showing.

(Kelsey Palmer; Assistant Director, Stage Manager; Dianna Devito, Sound/Light Operator; Jeff Wolf, Costumes; Dianna Reeves, Light Design; JC Conway, and Set Design and Construction; Ernie Eliason)

1 comment:

Chrissy Eliason said...

Thanks Rick, I am glad you enjoyed the production. One change on people though JC Conway did the light design and Jeff Wolf is running the light board.. Thank you again for a great review..