Ever wonder how Margaret Mitchell’s Southern masterpiece made it to the big screen?
The mother-son playwriting team of Virginia Cate and Duke Ernsberger give audiences a glimpse of their theory with “Don’t Cry for Me, Margaret Mitchell.”
The mostly true story follows Hollywood producer David O. Selznick as he practically kidnaps screenwriter Ben Hecht to save his production of Mitchell’s “Gone with the Wind.”
Locked in a room with Hecht and Selznick is director Victor Fleming. The three men live off bananas and peanuts (brain food) as Selznick attempts to sober up his writer and keep his director (who also is working on a little film called “The Wizard of Oz.”)
Sound crazy? It is. But you will be laughing all the way through the production at Barnwell Circle Theatre
, (803) 259-7046, 325 Academy St.
And while you’re there, look around. The theater is itself has a great story to tell.
The building started its life as a Presbyterian church built in the early 1840s. Although the city of Barnwell
was along the path of destruction in Gen. Sherman’s march through South Carolina, the church survived the Civil War. It became a courthouse because the original Barnwell
courthouse did not. After the war and Reconstruction and a lightning storm that destroyed the original steeple, the building was again used as a church.
By the late 1960s, however, it was obvious that the congregation needed a new location, but church members wanted to save the building. So, it was added to the National Register of Historic Places, moved to its current site and restored by an all-volunteer crew.
Barnwell’s community players group, the Circle Theatre, took over the building in 1974, added a stage and brought in renovated seating from the town’s old movie theater.
The building is one of four Barnwell church buildings that survived the Civil War and stand today. The others are Bethlehem Baptist, the Church of the Holy Apostles and St. Andrews Catholic Church.
Show times for “Don’t Cry for Me, Margaret Mitchell” are 8 p.m. Feb. 22-23 and Feb. 28-March 2 and at 3 p.m. on Feb. 24. Tickets are $12 for adults and $10 for seniors and students. Reservations can be made by calling (803) 259-7046 and leaving a message.