Gill McVey on directing Harrogate Dramatic Society’s production of Moonlight and Magnolias

Gill McVey who is directing Moonlight and Magnolias

The director in the chair for Harrogate Dramatic Society’s production of Moonlight and Magnolias is Gill McVey.

“Rehearsals are going extremely well and we are well ahead of where we normally are at this stage of the game,” said Gill.

The production opens at Harrogate Theatre Studio on Tuesday February 13 and runs until Saturday February 17.

Moonlight and Magnolias is the story behind the classic movie Gone with the Wind which starred Clark Gable and Vivien Leigh.

The producer was David O Selznick who, five weeks into the shoot, realised the script was dire and his director clueless. He had five days to find replacements and re-start the shoot.

He poached director Victor Fleming from The Wizard of Oz and then recruited script “doctor” Ben Hecht.

Hecht had not read Margaret Mitchell’s book of more than 1,030 pages on which the film was based. Over the course of five days, the three men, aided by Selznick’s assistant Miss Poppenghul, re-crafted the classic film.

Chris Cowling plays Selznick, Rob Hastings is Hecht, David Williams is Fleming and Selznick’s assistant is played by Janet Wilson.

“Our biggest challenge has been that Rob was also in the musical Made In Dagenham which was at the theatre until Saturday,” said Gill.

“He has therefore missed a few rehearsals. But, we have every confidence in him.

“With every period play it is a challenge to get the props, set and costumes as accurate as possible but our team are on to every detail and the cast have mastered the American accents,” said Gill.

“I love Gone With The Wind, movies of that era are something I’ve always been drawn to. Rebecca is my all-time favourite film, which was also a Selznick picture and gets a mention in Moonlight and Magnolias.”

Mrs Danvers – the housekeeper in Rebecca – is Gill’s dream role.

“I love acting but have found a new passion in directing. I never realised, though, how much goes into getting a play from book to stage until this past year.

“This is my second attempt at directing. I chose this play because of the humour. Gone with the Wind fans will ‘get’ all the jokes and nods to the film industry of the 1930s.

Gill’s friend Sue Rawson is producing the play – and “keeping me sane and offering great advice”.

Performances are daily at 7.45pm plus a Saturday matinee at 2pm. Tickets: 01423 502116.

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