To the editor:
Last Friday, my wife, Barbara, and I attended the opening performance of “Moonlight and Magnolias” at the Performing Arts Center, 500 Delaware St. Just so you know, the building is a historic theater in downtown Leavenworth maintained by the city of Leavenworth Parks and Recreation Department and has staged countless productions over the decades featuring local residents – a very important point.
My first thought when we found out that we out-bid everyone at A Taste of Leavenworth for the tickets was what’s it about? In case you are asking the same question, here goes.
The director Nino Casisi: “It’s all about the rewriting of the screenplay, ‘Gone with the Wind’ due to the film breaking apart at the seams. This show is more than the back story of GWTW. It delves into stereotypes, Jewish persuasion in Hollywood at that time and how we all look at each other as well as ourselves when approached with certain questions regarding race, creed, color and our views on society. It’s a terrific blend of the 1939 lingo, Hollywood references and the age-old questions that make us squirm in our seats.”
The show characters: Three actors and one actress. Scene: The office of David O. Selznick, the producer, in 1939, played by Jeff Adams. Jeff has a long list of River City Community Players’ theatrical credits to his name. He is the lead character.
The cinematographer: Victor Fleming is played by Kevin Albee. He first took the stage in 1979 at the RCCP. Kevin is the clinical director at A&D Hearing Center in Leavenworth.
The screenwriter: Ben Hecht is played by Ben Schatzel. Ben is an actor, writer, comedian from Lawrence and a 2017 graduate from KU. He has appeared in five KU productions and has had leading roles in three of the KU productions. He has also appeared in film festival productions.
David O. Selznick’s secretary, Miss Poppenguhl, is played by Meghan Voorhees. This is her first production with the River City Community Players. Of note, Meghan has participated in community theater since childhood. She is thrilled to carry on a family tradition of performing in Leavenworth.
The production: In my opinion, truly terrific. How so? The memorization of the dialog by all of the actors astounds me and was delivered flawlessly for nearly two hours. Try it some time.
There is one memorable “slapping scene.” The three principle actors have finally wearied of each other having been locked in the office of Selznick for nearly 10 days. They go at this scene for about three to four minutes which includes falling and rolling on the floor. Rehearsals, I’m told, were extensive and exhausting for this scene. You won’t forget it.
Barb and I have season tickets to the New Dinner Theater in Kansas City. We can say without reservation that this production is as good as many that we have watched there. The volume of memorization and delivery of the lines is second to none.
Auditions for “Oklahoma” are June 4-6.