THE MAGNIFICENT AMBERSONS Makes World Premiere Tonight at 8pm

by RoxyRegionalTheatre on March 25, 2016

Tonight, the long awaited and always hoped for opening of The Magnificent Ambersons comes to fruition, with its first public performance before an audience — mine being the only eyes to have seen the finished product at the final dress rehearsal.

An audience, often referred to as “the beast with a thousand eyes,” will see it tonight. (At the Roxy Regional Theatre, however, the beast only has 306 eyes.) I always say it’s like throwing lions to the Christians.

Like the groundwork done by Dennis Darling and Kari Catton for Beverly Fisher’s Grace Among the Leavings, we used Orson Welles’ original draft of The Magnificent Ambersons as the spring board for our own production — and of course, as our main source, Booth Tarkington’s Pulitzer Prize winning novel.

Orson Welles first produced The Magnificent Ambersons for the Mercury Radio Theater in 1939 and later, in 1942, for the film. The film, however, was altered, rewritten, re-shot and re-edited without Welles’ consent — so much so that many think, had it not been, The Magnificent Ambersons would have replaced Citizen Kane as the greatest film of all time.

George Minafer (Truman Jepson) and Lucy Morgan (Lauren Mund) form the backbone of the story. Both local high school students, Truman is a senior at Montgomery Central and Lauren a freshman at Clarksville High.

Isabel Amberson (played by Maggie McCollester*) is the great love of Eugene Morgan (Zak Schneider, last seen as Herr Von Hussler in our production of Mary Poppins).

Jonathan Whitney, who was our Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde last fall, returns as Uncle Jack Amberson. Wilbur Minifer is played by newcomer Scott Watson.

My best friend and favorite actress, Leslie Greene, I often refer to as my own personal Agnes Moorehead — Welles used Agnes for Fanny Minafer. I have cast Leslie as Fanny Minafer in our production.

Many new faces, and many faces who have graced our stage numerous times before, are happy to return to explore this new script and be part of a world premiere work. Filling out the cast are Michael C. Brown, Jay Doolittle, Riley Jenkins, Jacob Johnson, Michael Klug, Jackie Ostick, Emily Rourke, Aidan Sartor, Tanner Sigears and Georgia Smith.

I have been saving bits and pieces of scenery — the front of the Banks’ house from Mary Poppins, some repainted columns from The Great Gatsby, along with a vast array of costumes which we have collected and saved from various productions over the years — all to create a lavish production for Mr. Tarkington’s Pulitzer Prize winning novel.

The Magnificent Ambersons opens tonight (Friday) at 8:00pm for our traditional pay-what-you-can preview. Tickets go on sale at 7:30pm for a $5 minimum donation. Performances continue this Saturday, March 26, at 8:00pm, as well as next Friday, April 1, at 8:00pm and Saturday, April 2, at 2:00pm and 8:00pm.

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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