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Volume 24, Number 10 — November 2017

Review: 'Don't Cry for Me, Margaret Mitchell' at Barter Theatre


"Don''t Cry for Me, Margaret Mitchell" in Abingdon is a laugh a minute.

By Robert McKinney | Special to the Bristol Herald Courier | May 23, 2008

*** This review appeared Thursday, May 22, 2008, in the Bristol Herald Courier.***

ABINGDON, Va. — "Don''t Cry for Me, Margaret Mitchell" could easily pass for one of Neal Simon's best plays, such as "The Odd Couple" or "The Sunshine Boys." But it's by Duke Ernsberger and Virginia Cate, two howlingly whacky playwrights — a mother and son team, no less.

I'll bet you've never heard of them. You might remember the play was one of the readings of Barter's 2007 Appalachian Festival of Plays and Playwrights, an annual festival showcasing original works by Appalachian playwrights.

Instead of premiering in a pricy Broadway venue, however, it's at the much more reasonably priced Barter Stage II. And, instead of starring Walter Matthau and Tony Randall, it features four Barter actors ? old favorites Michael Poisson, Rick McVey and Mary Lucy Bivins, and newcomer Ezra Colon — Matthau and Randall should have been so funny.

Based rather loosely on actual events, the play has legendary Hollywood producer David O. Selznick (Poisson), screenwriter Ben Hecht (Colon) and director Victor Fleming (McVey) sequestered for a solid week in Selznick's office doing a complete rewrite of the script for "Gone with the Wind." Assisted only by Peabody (Bivins), Selznick's personal secretary, the three men are restricted to eating only peanuts and bananas, which, Selznick claims, will keep their brains working.

The dialogue is fast, snappy and non-stop, and Poisson's 60-second version of "Gone with the Wind" is worth nearly the price of admission by itself.

You don't have to be overly familiar with Margaret Mitchell's huge novel, the subsequent movie, the workings of Hollywood or even the egomaniacal Selznick to enjoy this play. Trust me, I've been out there, and this is really how those people are.

All the cast is at the top of their game in this one — Poisson especially — but take a gander at Colon. A member of the Barter Players up until now, this rubber-faced thespian is going to make his mark. Bet on it.

Katy Brown directs and if anybody knows seamless and laugh-a-minute, it's Brown

The show runs through Aug. 16. For dates, times and reservations, call (276) 628-3991 or www.bartertheatre.com.

A! ExtraTopics: Review, Theatre