“Moonlight and Magnolias” will open Saturday evening at the Driftwood Playhouse in Aberdeen.
The two-act comedy, written in 2004 by Ron Hutchinson, is set in 1939 during the making of the film “Gone With the Wind.” Legendary producer David O. Selznick has shut down production because the screenplay just doesn’t work. He sends a car for famed screenwriter Ben Hecht and pulls formidable director Victor Fleming from the set of “The Wizard of Oz” to help him fix it.
When they arrive at his office, Selznick locks the doors and closes the shades. For five sleepless days with very little food, the three men (with help from Selznick’s assistant, Miss Poppenguhl) collaborate on what became one of the most successful and beloved films of all time.
“It’s incredibly funny. What happens when you lock three huge egos in a room for five days with no food besides peanuts and bananas? There’s bound to be lots of conflict,” said director Alex Eddy. “All four of the actors are really embracing the hysteria and exhaustion that comes from five days with no sleep.”
At the center of it all is Jeff Rockwell playing Selznick. “He was given an incredibly difficult challenge with this show: several page-long monologues, repetitive lines that make you forget where you are in the play, etc.,” said Eddy. “Selznick is not an easy character to get into, but Jeff has really stepped up and is a joy to watch.”
Christian Gleason is making his Driftwood debut as Ben Hecht. “He’s one of the younger kids to keep your eyes on,” said Eddy. “He’s good at this theater thing.”
He said it’s been a challenge directing this play – not only because “it’s way easier to make people cry than to make them laugh,” but also because two of the four cast members joined the production just two weeks ago.
Matt Kline stepped in to play Victor Fleming (“I am never not impressed with him,” said Eddy), and Sara Henry took over the role of Miss Poppenguhl. “She and I have almost never worked on a show without the other, so it may have been inevitable that she’d end up in the cast,” he said.
Despite all of the challenges, everything has come together well, he said.
“The best part about any Driftwood show is the sense of family that develops,” he said. “All of these people are working toward the same goal, and while tempers and egos can flare up, we all know that what we’re doing is special because it’s ours.”
This production contains adult language and may not be suitable for young children.
This weekend will be Saturday only, with the curtain rising at 7:30 p.m. Starting April 26, the play will go on at 7:30 Fridays and Saturdays through May 11. The run will end with a Sunday matinee at 1:30 p.m. May 12.
Tickets may be purchased for $15 at Valu Drug in Montesano, City Center Drug in Aberdeen, Harbor Drug in Hoquiam and the Dusty Trunk in Ocean Shores. Seats also are available through aberdeendriftwood.com or at the door on performance dates. Students with ID will be able to buy “rush” tickets for $10 the night of each performance.
For the first Friday of every show this season, Driftwood Players are offering seats on a “pay what you can” basis with the hopes that this will bring more people to the theater. Friday, April 26, will be that night for this show. Season ticket holders and patrons with regular priced tickets are encouraged to attend these performances as well.