Maggie McCollester (nee Eilertson) Returns for THE MAGNIFICENT AMBERSONS

by RoxyRegionalTheatre on March 18, 2016

“The Magnificence of the Ambersons began in 1873. Their splendor lasted throughout all the years that saw their Midland town spread and darken into a city. In those days, the only public conveyance was the street car. A lady could whistle to it from an upstairs window, and the car would halt and wait as she shut the window, went downstairs, put on her hat, found an umbrella, and told the girl what to have for dinner. Too slow for us nowadays, for the faster we are carried, the less time we have to spare.”

The great beauty of the story, Booth Tarkington’s The Magnificent Ambersons, is Isabel Amberson. In our production, Margaret Eilertson, a great beauty herself (who, now married, goes by Maggie McCollester*), will be taking on the role.

Margaret returns to us after having appeared in several national commercials and a number of films. She was magnificent as Curley’s wife in our first production of Of Mice and Men and wonderful as Honey in Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?

Margaret was here for the tornado and sat with us four, reading our scripts by candlelight due to the power outage. Young people can do that — they have young eyes — but we more mature actors have trouble with the flickering tapers, which play games with our vision and our ability to focus. However, one can live with that, looking so well in the glow of candlelight. Vanity, thy name is … human.

The Magnificent Ambersons has been on the backburner for over a year now, simmering and getting better and better with every tweak and rewrite by workshoppers Sidney McCarty, Jesse Boyle, Grace Davis, Allison Ferebee, Truman Jepson, Jacob Johnson, Lauren Mund, Madeline O’Connor, Tanner Sigears, Georgia Smith, Austin Stewart, Jewel Stewart and Amy Wyer.

The pay-what-you-can preview (with a $5 minimum donation) of The Magnificent Ambersons is next Friday, March 25. Tickets go on sale at 7:30pm for an 8pm performance.

The groundwork for Beverly Fisher’s Grace Among the Leavings has already been done by Dennis Darling and Kari Catton, who have saved and savored each nuance of the novella for their stage adaptation. I was at long last and finally reading Margaret Mitchell’s classic, Gone with the Wind, realizing some of the characters, subplots and story lines had gone with the wind.

Beverly and her agent asked, since I liked her book so much, if the play might be something we would want to do here at the Roxy Regional Theatre. I said yes and, gathering my gang of brilliant theatrical upstarts, began with an already premiered stage version to trim away bits and pieces, making it more performable for smaller venues like the Roxy’s theotherspace. The staged reading of Grace Among the Leavings is scheduled for Monday and Tuesday, June 20, 21, 27 and 28, at 7pm, upstairs in theotherspace.

Dr. Seuss’ mischievous cat romps across the Roxy stage one last time for the final matinee of The Cat in the Hat, tomorrow at 2pm.

See you at the theatre!

* Maggie McCollester is appearing courtesy of Actors’ Equity Association, the Union of Professional Actors and Stage Managers in the United States.

[John McDonald]

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