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September 06, 2012 - Image 39

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2012-09-06

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arts & entertainment


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Moonlight And Magnolias

A comedic farce harking back to Hollywood's Golden Age opens 2012-2013 JET season.

Suzanne Chessler

Contributing Writer


athleen Marcaccio first saw Gone With the Wind
as a 12-year-old.
That was in the 1960s, about 80 viewings ago,
when she instantly became a serious fan of the 1939 epic
motion picture and before she started collecting historic
materials tied to the film — magazine articles, advertise-
ments, pictures, programs.
"I love classic movies, and Gone with the Wind has so
many angles:' Marcaccio says. "Each time I see it, there
are new things to explore. I hope people enjoy my collec-
tion, which has grown through other collectors and with
opportunities on eBay"
Marcaccio, who lives in Royal. Oak, also came to follow
the play Moonlight and Magnolias, a humorous take on
the filmmakers as they strengthened the flimsy GWTW
script based on Margaret Mitchell's novel.
The play takes place over five days in the office of pro-
ducer David 0. Selznick as he uses extreme measures to
secure dramatic results from writer Ben Hecht and direc-
tor Victor Fleming — with all of them surviving on snack
As different theaters offer their own productions,
Marcaccio offers her own collection for display, helping to
set the mood of the times depicted.
JET audiences will see Marcaccio's treasures before

they sit down for the comedy opening the 24th season of
the company. The play runs Sept. 19-Oct. 7 at the Aaron
DeRoy Theatre in the Jewish Community Center in West
"This is a fun play with bigger-than-life issues:' says
Christopher Bremer, who is directing the JET production.
'Audiences will see the realities filmmakers have to deal
with when putting together a big-screen feature."
As the three movie icons develop the Civil War back-
drop to intensify the romance of Scarlett O'Hara and Rhett
Butler, they wage their own civil war among themselves.
The cast includes Wayne David Parker (Selznick), Joel
Mitchell (Hecht), Glen Allen Pruett (Fleming) and Mary
Bremer (Miss Poppenghul, secretary to Selznick).
"The playwright captured the vulnerabilities of the
people being depicted and their attitudes toward issues
beyond the film," says Bremer, who previewed the Gone
with the Wind memorabilia that will be on view.
"The audience also will see the incredible pressure
these people were under when developing Gone with the
Wind. Their decisions on this one project could mean
the life or death of each career. Watching the three men
together gives a sense of attitudes of the tim' Li

Suzanne Chessler


on Hutchinson, who wrote
Moonlight & Magnolias, has
worked on feature-length scripts
for film (The Island of Doctor Moreau)
and television, including 1989's Murderers
Among Us: The Simon Wiesenthal
Story and the 2006
miniseries The Ten
He understands
confinement needed
to polish dialogue on
deadline and appar-
ently can keep a sense
of humor about it as
communicated through
his play.

Mitchell and, above, Mary Bremer.

Moonlight and Magnolias runs Sept.19-Oct. 7 in the Aaron DeRoy Theatre in the Jewish Community Center
in West Bloomfield. Performance times are at 7:30 p.m. Thursdays, 5 and 8:30 p.m. Saturdays and 2 and 7
p.m. Sundays. There also are shows at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Sept.19, and 2 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 3. $38-
$45/discounts for seniors and students. (248) 788-2900; www.jettheatre.org .

Meet The Playwright

Contributing Writer

The cast of Moonlight and Magnolias: Left to right

are Glen Allen Pruett, Wayne David Parker and Joel

Hutchinson, a huge fan of writer Ben
Hecht, found inspiration for his comedy
by reading about Hecht's forced confine-
ment to finish the rewrite of Gone with
the Wind.
In negotiations to turn this play into a
film, Hutchinson, who is not Jewish, also
is working on a drama about anti-Semi-
tism in 1910 Germany.
The playwright, born in Belfast,
Northern Ireland, and relocated to
California, did considerable research to
gain insight into the famous people he
depicts in Moonlight and Magnolias.
During a phone interview from his
home, Hutchinson discussed his work and
the attitudes toward Judaism expressed
by Hecht and producer David 0. Selznick
as they collaborated with director Victor

IN: Do you watch new productions of

Moonlight & Magnolias?
RH: When this play is around, I like
to go backstage and listen to it. There are
several moments when there are really big
laughs, and there are sections in it when
the laughs start coming in like the surf
at Waikiki Beach. It's a real treat to hear
an audience giving themselves so whole-
heartedly to having a great time.

JN: How did you research the charac-
RH: I was lucky enough to make con-
tact with Danny Selznick, who is [famed
producer] Louis B. Mayer's grandson and
David Selznick's son. He was remarkably
generous in the time he gave me talking
about his father and showing me the fam-
ily albums.
Then I also met the surviving daughter

of the director, Victor Fleming. I spent a
couple of wonderful days with her talk-
ing about her reminiscences of her father,
even though he died when she was very
I knew so much about Hecht [from
reading his books], and I watched some
of the footage from a TV show he did in
the 1960s.

JN: Can you point to anything in the
content of your play that specifically
involves Judaism?
RH: Hecht became very involved in the
[struggles for a] Jewish state, and there's
an exchange in the play that is about
Jewish relief. Selznick wanted nothing
to do with being seen in public as a sup-
porter of a Jewish cause. Hecht was always
pestering him, saying that he had to stand

Playwright on page 32


September 6


20 z.


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