by Terrance Mc Arthur
Lock a Hollywood producer with father-in-law issues (his wife’s dad owns the studio) in an office for five days with a director he stole from another movie he was doing, and a screenwriter who never read the most popular book of the decade, and what do you get? At the Good Company 2nd Space, you get Moonlight and Magnolias, Ron Hutchinson’s comedy about writing the script for Gone With the Wind, playing through February 21.
According to legend, after firing George Cukor, David O. Selznick took Victor Fleming off of The Wizard of Oz, and they worked with Ben Hecht to rewrite the script in a marathon effort fueled by bananas and salted peanuts. In Hutchinson’s play, Fleming (Eric Estep) and Selznick (Henry Montelongo) act out the story and Hecht (Gordon Moore) types it (supporting credit is merited by a vintage typewriter that takes a pounding). A secretary/receptionist/gofer (Bailey Johnson) brings in supplies and tries to deal with the calls that Selznick refuses to take.
Moore is at his magical best, smirking, mugging, dashing about in frantic desperation, and nearing catatonic exhaustion in his portrayal of one of Hollywood’s most famous script doctors. Amid all the slapstick, his character deals with the issue of Hollywood studio Judaism and the conflicts he felt about the dream factories and the Hitler-dominated world that wasn’t as far away as it seemed. He sees the absurdities of Margaret Mitchell’s story and struggles with Scarlett O’Hara’s adulterous, murderous, and racist qualities that are squeezed into a romantic heroine.
Selznick capers and bullies, bending two strong wills to do his bidding and creates a classic film. Montelongo takes the stereotypical producer and gives him resonance and depth, trying to create something worthwhile before the movie industry collapses from lack of creativity.
Estep has a broad physicality, looming over the others, yet is quick to play the characters and actors of the GWTW story. Johnson shows the strain of the five-day writing jag even more than the men, starting at sounds and looking more and more haggard and perplexed as the proceedings…..proceed.Denise Graziani has directed more than a dozen GCP productions and acted in over two dozen. She guides these actors into a full-tilt boogie race that starts quickly and never lets up. David Pierce’s set echoes the excesses of a studio office, and wardrobe wizard Ginger Kay Lewis-Reed captures the 30s affluence of the studio era.
The language is salty, peppered with the profane and the vulgar, so leave the kiddies at home. It’s fast and furious, funny and frantic, and a fine way to spend ninety minutes.
The 2nd Space theatre is at 928 E. Olive Avenue. Be aware that the parking lot at the southwest corner of Van Ness and Olive is currently not available, and look for alternative spaces. For tickets, call 559-266-0660 or 800-371-4747. More info can be found on the KRL GCP event page, and their website.
Check out more theatre reviews & other local entertainment articles in our Arts & Entertainment section.