Reviewed By Dr Raymond ZuWallack, Cape Cod
Nemasket River Productions’ Summer Show, opening last weekend, brought my wife and myself happily off Cape. Perhaps a more telling title for Moonlight and Magnolias might be “Peanuts and Bananas!” According to Ron Hutchinson’s fast, sharp and funny account of how the screen-play for Gone With The Wind got rush-written in five days, this was the only nutrition Hollywood mogul David O. Selznick allowed his collaborators, the writer Ben Hecht and the director Victor Fleming.
“The digestive juices get mixed up with the creative ones – it’s a scientific fact,” he informs a bleary-eyed Hecht, who drools in vain over bagels and orange juice. The play is well suited to the intimate space of The Alley Theatre. The action never strays from Selznick’s office, and yet you can sense, through this pressure-cooker environment, the wider world beyond: the production crew standing by, as costs mount; the looming spectre of humiliation and failure; and even, this being 1939, the rumblings of war.
The director, Sheila Kelleher, has an eye for the anti-heroic absurdities and embraces the farce as well, in this entertaining revival. Set by Max Verga is a vivid and eye catching black and white art deco backdrop, while the light and sound is accurately provided by the amiable father and son team of W.W. Lighting.
Packed with fascinating facts, it shows us real-life players almost turning into characters from a screwball caper, slapping and scrapping. In their quest for celluloid gold, Steve Doherty’s intense, incredulous Hecht, James Koonce’s pent-up Fleming and Ed Krasnow’s endearing, perspiring Selznick, wind up quivering wrecks; while the ever loyal secretary, played by Rachel Sullivan, becomes increasingly disheveled as the days dissolve into chaos and peanut shells! There are many belly laughs in this production as well as knowing laughter from an audience that warmly remembers Gone with the Wind. Then, at the end, they pull themselves together and prepare for similar traumas on their next projects. You gotta love them, and America, for it.
Don’t miss NRP’s final weekend (August 12,13) with additional Thursday night, August 11th 8pm show, Moonlight and Magnolias at the Alley Theatre, 133 Centre Street, Middleboro. Tickets are $20 General Admission and $18 Seniors & Students, Matinee $15. All performances can be combined with our “Dinner and a Show” special, a dinner theatre experience in collaboration with Lorenzo’s (Rt 28, Middleboro) 508-947-3000. Three course meal including glass of wine for $20.00 bring receipt to our box office before the show and tickets are only $15.00. For more info about NRP please visit us on our website: www.nemasketriverproductions.com or on our FB, Flicker, Twitter, Tumble or Instagram sites. You may also call our virtual box office 866 -244-0448 for reservations. Credit card purchases via Brown Paper Tickets through our website and at the door.