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Connecticut Playmakers Staging ‘Moonlight And Magnolias’ In Greenwich

In rehearsal for “Moonlight and Magnolias,” seated, left to right, David Pollard as Ben Hecht, Tim Cronin as Victor Fleming, standing, left to right, Adam Auslander as David O. Selznick and Tina D’Amato as Miss Poppenghul.
In rehearsal for “Moonlight and Magnolias,” seated, left to right, David Pollard as Ben Hecht, Tim Cronin as Victor Fleming, standing, left to right, Adam Auslander as David O. Selznick and Tina D’Amato as Miss Poppenghul. Photo Credit: Contributed

GREENWICH, Conn. -- The madcap antics behind a script overhaul that led to the iconic film “Gone With The Wind” unravel as comedic farce in the first of at least two productions Connecticut Playmakers is offering for its 68th year of Broadway-style theater in Greenwich.

The play is called “Moonlight and Magnolias” and will be staged under Dan Friedman’s direction at the First Congregational Church (108 Sound Beach Ave.) in Greenwich on March 20-22 and March 27-28. Tickets are $25. Additional information is available at 203-249-5419 and www.ctplaymakers.org.

Connecticut Playmakers has mounted as many as four productions every year since 1947 — musicals, comedies and dramas – assembled by seasoned performers who generally earn a living outside of entertainment. They are driven more by a deep-rooted passion for theater and the sheer exhilaration of singing and dancing as opposed to aspirations on the professional stage or TV exposure.

The script by screenwriter Ron Hutchison goes back to Hollywood in 1939 when the legendary producer David O. Selznick realizes the original screenplay for Margaret Mitchell’s novel is a dud and recruits script doctor Ben Hecht and director Victor Fleming to resuscitate the storyline.

They lock themselves in a room for five zany days, subsisting on a diet of bananas and peanuts, and fashion the blueprint for what will become one of the most beloved-- and successful -- films of all time. Hutchison’s fractious interplay among the three men plus Selznick’s secretary is characterized by one reviewer as “an impassioned love song and a blazing critique of Hollywood.” Another critic saw it as “a rip-roaring farce with witty, pointed dialogue and hilarious situations.”

Friedman, the director, is also a playwright and actor, based in Carmel, N.Y.and has appeared over the years in Darien, Westport and Wilton. The cast features David Pollard as Ben Hecht and Tim Cronin as Victor Fleming, both of Stamford, Adam Auslander of Croton-on-Hudson, N.Y. as David O. Selznick and Tina D’Amato of Yonkers, N.Y.as Selznick’s secretary, Miss Poppenghul.

“Moonlight and Magnolias” extends the string of plays to 225 and counting. Projected for later this season —opening May 15 — is a cabaret-style production called “Dinner with Disney,” directed by Michele Grace of Fairfield, the artistic director of Connecticut Players, with musical direction by the troupe’s Chris Coogan of Weston.

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