“After all…tomorrow is another day!” Actress Viven Leigh uttered these iconic lines as Scarlett O’Hara in the memorable film, “Gone with the Wind.” Starting tomorrow, find out how this cinematic classic came to be in OpenStage’s production of “Moonlight and Magnolias.”
A comedic twist on a real event, this slapstick tale by Ron Hutchinson illustrates the creative process of the golden age of Hollywood. Producer David O. Selznik locks himself inside with director Victor Fleming and screenwriter Ben Hecht to completely overhaul the script in five days.
After directing with other companies for seven years, “Moonlight and Magnolias” will be the directorial debut of Justin Batson with OpenStage.
“I gave Denise [Freestone, co-founder of OpenStage,] about ten scripts that I wanted to work on and she chose this one,” Batson said. “It’s a fun comedy with great slapstick moments and a great look behind the scenes of the industry.”
Greg Clark plays Fleming, who was pulled off of “The Wizard of Oz” to translate the novel to the silver screen. Clark has been performing with OpenStage since 1978 and acting, especially acting like Fleming, has come naturally to him.
“The character is easy because he’s close to me,” Clark said. “He’s a pilot and I had my pilot license. He liked motorcycles and fast cars like me. He’s also a self-taught person. He dropped out the first year of college like I did and we went on to learn everything we needed to learn anyway.”
Clark relishes the opportunity to play a historical figure because of the amount of research required. “I like trying to make him as authentic as possible.”
David Austin-Groen plays Selznick, the producer who decided to stop all production and rewrite the film. The risky move means he’s paying people $50,000 a day, which becomes millions today, to do nothing. This pressure is what Austin-Groen enjoys most about the play.
“I like the first act the best, when we’re just figuring it all out,” Austin-Groen said. “The first part is very desperate and funny. It’s the driving force of the whole thing. He had vision, and it wasn’t fitting it. Rather than putting out junk, he threw caution to the wind. He could have gone bankrupt and lost everything.”
Instead, the team created the highest grossing film of all time.
While the drama comes from Selznick’s stakes, the comedy comes from Hecht’s ignorance. Hecht, the screenwriter played by Duane Sawyer, is the only person who hasn’t read the book on which the film is based. This leads to Selznik and Fleming acting out the narrative so Hecht can write the script.
“He isn’t a man of action,” Sawyer said. “He’s no better than anyone else. He’s a flawed character. That’s where the comedy comes from.”
This one-of-a-kind play is sure to entertain all.
“It’s a farce, but it is chock full of factual information,” Clark said. “It’s unique that way.”
Collegian Entertainment Reporter Jefferson Geiger can be reached at email@example.com.