Sunday, March 22, 2015


What do peanut shells and banana peels have to do with the movie "Gone With The Wind"?  Those meager pickings are all producer David O. Selznick would allow his "kidnapped" writer and director to eat, peanuts and bananas, while they solved a great conundrum:  how to create a script of the Margaret Mitchell book that was less than seven hours long.

The turbulence of the Civil War, an epic saga penned by  Mitchell, her one and only masterpiece, became "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, ended up being ranked number 4 on the 100 Best American Films of All Time list of 1998. But how it came to pass, against great odds, is a unique story all on its own.

To be privy to the inside scoop 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 the Connecticut Playmakers to see the frantic slapstick comedy "Moonlight and Magnolias" by Ron Hutchinson Friday, March 27 and Saturday, March 28 at 8 p.m. at First Congregational Church, 108 Sound Beach Avenue, Old Greenwich.

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 viable 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 or not practical.  Atlanta has to burn, the Confederacy has to be defeated and Scarlett has to face surmounting problems.  Selznick (Adam Auslander) implores his good friend the journalist Ben Hecht (David Pollard) 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 (Tim Cronin) 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 (Tina D'Amato) is a comic circus, under the deft direction of Dan Friedman.

For tickets ($25), call  the Connecticut Playmakers at 203-249-5419 or online at  Performances are Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m. This is a cabaret setting, so bring goodies to share at your table. Come witness this plucky Connecticut community theatre group that has produced 225 Broadway hits over its 67 year history in the Greenwich area.

Make your plans now to have "Dinner with Disney" that will take you on a musical journey of Disney songs for the last 75 years.  Come hear tunes from such hits as "The Lion King," "Aladdin," "Snow White," "The Jungle Book," "Frozen," "Tarzan" and "Cinderella," to name a few.  Bring your kids and your dinner on Friday and Saturday, May 8 and 9, 15 and 16 and 22 and 23 at 8 p.m. and Sunday, May 17 and 24 at 2 p.m.

You'll surely want to rent a DVD of this classic film once you witness the behind-the-scenes shenanigans that unbelievably led Ben Hecht, "the Shakespeare of Hollywood," to succeed where so many others before him had failed. All David O. Selznick wants is one great movie before he dies and without becoming a monkey's uncle he manages to pull off the trick of the century.

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