Between Carol Burnett and Dramatic License, We’ve Got This “Gone With The Wind” Thing Covered

Dave Cooperstein, Dean Christopher and Kent Coffel “attack” the script of “Gone With The Wind” in the Dramatic License Production of “Moonlight and Magnolias.” Photo credit: John Lamb.

A wild premise indeed, “Moonlight and Magnolias” at Dramatic License Productions shows us what might have happened to the classic “Gone With The Wind” with a bit of last minute fiddling (or fiddle-de-deeing). So between the hilarious Carol Burnett parody of the on screen possibilities and this absurd look behind the scenes, this beloved movie may never be viewed the same way again.

Although the Ron Hutchinson script can get a little wordy and heavy handed at times- probably because we’re all so familiar with the movie- the excellent cast keeps us laughing during the two hours of a meeting between producer David O. Selznick, writer Ben Hecht and director Victor Fleming. Dissatisfied with the way shooting is going on the film version of the most adored book in the country, Selznick fires director George Cukor and hires Fleming. In order to beef up the script, Selznick hires Chicago journalist Ben Hecht. Two problems- Hecht has never read the book and he’s given five days to completely revamp the script.

In order to insure quality and no nonsense while creating the new script, Selznick locks himself, Hecht and Fleming into his office with no escape and living on bananas and peanuts (both good brain food). Dave Cooperstein is marvelous as the frenetic producer. He blusters, whines and even acts out several parts in the book to bring Hecht up to speed. As Ben Hecht, veteran Dean Christopher gives a convincing performance mixed with frustration and disbelief. But, ever the writer, he eventually knuckles down and- with Selznick and Fleming guiding the way- hammers out the new script.

Dean Christopher watches as Kent Coffel acts out a portion of the book in Dramatic License Productions’ “Moonlight and Magnolias.” Photo credit: John Lamb.

Kent Coffel is delightful as the brash, wide-eyed Fleming. He eventually reaches his breaking point before returning to the task at hand and, eyeing cinematic shots in his head, carries on with this marathon session. Rounding out the cast is a wonderful turn by Maggie Murphy as the beleaguered secretary who pops in and out with food, phone call interruptions and, eventually, general hysteria on her part as well.

Director Jason Cannon has directed this wild and wooly production with the proper sense of urgency and bedlam. Along with Scott Schoonover’s workable (and eventually messy) set design and the perfect lighting plot of Max Parrilla, it all adds up to controlled chaos. A nod as well to the thoughtful and appropriate costumes of Becky Fortner.

It’s light a fluffy but a great escape for a couple of hours. Anyone who is familiar with the book and movie (and who isn’t?), “Moonlight and Magnolias” is as welcome as a comfy robe and slippers. And you might want to go on you tube and watch that Carol Burnett episode again just for grins. Catch “Moonlight and Magnolias” at Dramatic License (in Chesterfield Mall) through November 11th. Contact them at 636-220-7012 or at http://www.dramaticlicenseproductions.org for tickets or more information.

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