Bring me a julep, please
Moonlight & Magnolias
Sacramento, CA 95815
Moonlight & Magnolias starts with an intriguing concept. Take the beloved 1939 movie classic Gone With the Wind and revisit it by imagining how the book was turned into the iconic film. There are shades of truth in playwright Ron Hutchinson’s take on how the best-selling Civil War epic became the Hollywood blockbuster. Stories abound on struggles with studios, stars and scripts, with egos running amok as deadlines loomed.
In Moonlight & Magnolias, the cast of characters has five days to turn the book into a screenplay, bringing together producer David O. Selznick, scriptwriter Ben Hecht and director Victor Fleming. And it turns out that movie-making is like sausage—sometimes it’s best not to know how they’re made.
In this story, a panicked Selznick locks the three in his studio office, and madcap mayhem ensues. Big Idea Theatre makes the most of this somewhat problematic script with their talented performances and creative production.
Director Jouni Kirjola embraces the broad humor, creating great fast-paced banter and physical slapstick between the actors: Kirk Blackinton as Selznick, Benjamin T. Ismail as Hecht and Justin D. Muñoz as Fleming. In particular, it’s a joy to watch the interplay between Blackinton and Muñoz and their over-the-top antics.
And there’s a wonderful incorporation of movie magic with silent-movie strobe lights, a spot-on 1930s office set (complete with quick visits by the ever-patient studio secretary played by Gay Cooper), wonderful costumes and an enjoyable soundtrack.
It’s fun and funny while you’re on the rollicking rollercoaster. However, there’s an odd tonal shift that momentarily takes you out of wacky and smacks you with an odd commentary on racism in Hollywood. And there are times where you want to like the script so much more than you do. But overall, Moonlight & Magnolias creatively captures a comedic glimpse into the old studio system and the magic of movies and movie making.