Monday, January 28, 2013


Against the turbulence of the Civil War is the epic saga penned by Margaret Mitchell, her one and only masterpiece, "Gone with the Wind."  Translating its 1037 pages of romance and drama in the old South into a four hour film by David O. Selznick, producer, ranked number 4 on the 100 Best American Films of All Time list of 1998, is a unique story all on its own.

To be privy to the inside story of how the movie came to be written and splashed across the silver screen, ultimately to win ten Academy Awards and be one of the highest grossing films of its time, head over to Playhouse on Park in West Hartford to see the frantic slapstick comedy "Moonlight and Magnolias" by Ron Hutchinson until Sunday, February 10.

Producer David O. Selznick's career and reputation and future and fortune are all on the line.  Every day it is costing him $50,000 to make a film that has no script.  Fraught with obstacles, the project to make "Gone with the Wind" is in tremendous trouble.  He finally has a cast, Vivien Leigh as his daunting and determined heroine Scarlett O'Hara and Clark Gable as the dashing and enigmatic Rhett Butler but without a workable screenplay he has nothing.

Every script to date is flawed, too long, not practical.  Atlanta has to burn, the Confederacy has to be defeated and Scarlett has to face surmounting problems.  Selznick (Kevin Elden) implores his good friend the journalist Ben Hecht (Allan Greenberg) to come to his rescue.  Hecht, who has never even read the book, reluctantly agrees to try.  Locked in a room for five days, with Selznick and his brand new director Victor Fleming (Bill Mootos) acting out the plot, Hecht is forced to live on peanuts and bananas and produce a masterpiece.  How the trio survive with the aid of the producer's faithful secretary Ms. Poppenghul (Denise Walker) is a comic circus, under the deft direction of Russell Garrett.

For tickets ($22.50-32.50), call Playhouse on Park, 244 Park Road, West Hartford at 860-523-5900, ext. 10 or online at  Performances are Wednesday and Thursday at 7:30 p.m., Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m.

You'll surely want to rent a DVD of this classic film once you witness the behind-the-scenes shnanigans that unbelievably led Ben Hecht, "the Shakespeare of Hollywood," to succeed where so many others before him had failed.

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