'Moonlight and Magnolias' at Western Reserve Playhouse both fun and thoughtful

by April Helms Special Products Editor Published:

Three men (along with a long-suffering secretary) confine themselves in the office of a movie producer for five days as they feverishly work on a movie script, surviving on water, bananas and peanuts.

This sounds like the setup for a comedy, and it is -- although a comedy (somewhat) based on real events. In "Moonlight and Magnolias," which opened Western Reserve Playhouse's summer season, the movie script is for "Gone With the Wind," which would turn out to be one of the biggest movies in film history.

"When they had burned down the town, they didn't even know who Scarlett was going to be," said Marie Dusini, who handles publicity for the theater, on the film's early history.

The cast of four do a commendable job balancing the comedy with some of the more serious issues the play touches on, such as the line between making a living and being a success, and standing up for your ideals.

In the play, movie producer David O. Selznick (played by Ed Conrad), is looking for a hit movie. He's in desperate need of a hit, both to salvage his studio and to redeem himself in the eyes of his father-in-law, Louis B. Mayer, the CEO of MGM.

He thinks he has found his movie with "Gone With the Wind," based on the wildly popular novel written by Margaret Mitchell. But he's already hit several snags, one of them being that the script he has isn't working. So he ropes in longtime friend and talented screenwriter Ben Hecht (played by Dan Williams) to rewrite the script, and pulls director Victor Fleming (played by Al Klesh) off of another movie to replace the director he just fired (the movie Fleming was pulled from was "The Wizard of Oz.").

Through it all, faithful secretary Miss Poppenghul (played by Pat Robertell-Hudson) screens calls, takes messages and keeps the three men supplied with peanuts and bananas. The three of them stay sequestered in Selznick's office for five days as they work together on the new script.

Note to those with peanut allergies, peanuts are extensively used onstage.

Ticket and show information

"Moonlight and Magnolias" can be seen Fridays and Saturdays through June 21.

Tickets prices for adults are $12, and students and seniors are $10. Call 330-620-7314 for details.

The theater is at 3326 Everett Road, at the Bath and Richfield border.

Up next

Western Reserve Playhouse will next stage "Shout! The Mod Musical" July 18 through Aug. 9.

Email: ahelms@recordpub.com

Phone: 330-541-9438

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