SRT will end its fourth season with “Moonlight and Magnolias,” a farce that takes audiences into the world of 1939 Hollywood and the making of the movie “Gone With The Wind.” We caught up with director Susan Coromel to find out how things were going on the set and whether there was “something left in life of charm and grace.”
SM: Tell me about you. Is this the first show you’ve directed for SRT?
SC: I am a founding member of the company and until now have only acted in the company, my SRT roles include Kate in “Sylvia,” Anna in “Hauptman” and next season I will play Hailey in the 2008-09 season opening, of “Bad Dates” in September. My representive directing credits include, “Betrayal” by Harold Pinter and “Boy’s Life” by Howard Korder at Boise State University and “The Merchant of Venice,” “Twelfth Night” and “The Memorandum” by Václav Havel at The University of Evansville in Indiana. Most recently I directed The “Importance of Being Earnest” by Oscar Wilde at Willamette University where I am currently Associate Chair of The Department of Theatre.
SM: What is “Moonlight and Magnolias” all about? Why did you choose it?
SC: We chose “Moonlight and Magnolias” because we wanted to find a new comedy that our core company could do. This is my first experience directing at Salem Repertory Theatre where I am currently an Associate Artist and founding member. Almost two years ago David Janoviak asked me to direct in the 20007-08 Season. As soon as I read this play, I knew I wanted to do it. It’s a wonderful tour de force for the actors. It is a clever script that allows the actors to demonstrate great verbal dexterity and comic timing in a funny yet accurate portrayal of life behind the scenes in 1930s Hollywood.
SM: How is it going so far?
SC: The play has been a lot of fun to direct. All the actors are really excited about doing this play and so rehearsals are exhilarating, challenging and just really fun. The cast consists of four very funny people and putting them all in one room to work on this very funny play has been a joy.
SM: What’s the cast like. Are they mostly local actors?
SC: This is a very strong cast, most of whom are returning to SRT. The principal characters are director Victor Fleming played by SRT’s Artistic Director David Janoviak, and producer David O. Selznick played by David Meyers who is a returning favorite to SRT, having performed in both “The Underpants” last season and in “Drawer Boy” in SRT’s second season. We are pleased to be joined by a popular Portland actor and newcomer to SRT, Mark Schwahn in the role of screenwriter Ben Hecht. SRT company member Dawnie Drebin, plays the hardworking, efficient and faithful secretary to David O. Selznick, Miss Popponghul.
SM: What do you hope audiences get out of it?
SC: The playwright, Ron Hutchinson creates a humorous and probable account of the rewriting of the script of “Gone With The Wind.” His version reveals what might have happened behind close doors when David O. Selznick, the producer of “Gone With The Wind,” shut down filming of the project and called in screenwriter, Ben Hecht and Director, Victor Fleming to write a whole new screen play of Margaret Mitchell’s famous novel.
Hilarity ensues when we learn that the Screenwriter, Ben Hecht has never read the book.
SM: So do you have to be a fan of “Gone With The Wind” to really get this play?
SC: Audiences who know “Gone With The Wind,” will love the play, but a strong character-driven plot that reveals the deeper motivations and machinations of the making of a legendary movie will captivate even those who have not seen the movie. SRT has teamed up with Carole Smith at the Grand Theatre to show the movie “Gone With The Wind” in its entirety on the big screen May 6 and 14 at 7 p.m. We know this will generate lots of interest in the film and the story of the making of a legend.
“Moonlight and Magnolias” will run May 1 – 18. For tickets and information visit www.salemrep.org or call (503) 302-8907.