‘Moonlight and Magnolias’is hilarious, physical and thought-provoking


By Hope Baugh

We all know “Gone with the Wind” is an award-winning classic movie. However, back in 1939, the movie only existed in producer David O. Selznick’s mind, and he was having a heck of time trying to get a working screenplay out of the bestselling book.In the Carmel Clay Community Playhouse special fundraiser production of “Moonlight and Magnolias,” we get to be a fly on the wall of David’s office as he and his two cohorts – writer Ben Hecht and director Victor Fleming –lock themselves in for one hilarious week to get the job done.

It is hilarious because Ben (Tom Beeler) has only ever read the first page of the novel. David (Daniel Scharbrough) and Victor (Stephen Hunt) decide they will just act out the story so he can write it down. This is easier said than done, especially since David insists they never leave the room and eat only bananas and peanuts for “brain food.” It is fun to watch now-famous movie scenes such as“I don’t know nothin’ ‘bout birthin’ no babies” being born.It is interesting to think along with the men about philosophical issues related to movie-making.

This is a very physical piece, with lots of rough-housing as the frustration and fatigue levels rise. The three male actors here are excellent. However, my favorite performance in this show came from CarrieSchlatter, the woman who played David’s charming secretary, Miss Poppenghul, during the first weekend of the show’s three-weekend run. Carrie brought a nuanced ditsiness to the “small” part and made it clear how essential that secretary was to the success of the movie. Jean Childers Arnold will play Miss Poppenghul during the second weekend, and Kathy Pataluch the third. I wish I had time to go back and see their performances, too.

“Moonlight and Magnolias” was written by Ron Hutchinson and is directed here by Lori Raffel.  It runs through Sunday at the Carmel Community Playhouse.