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by BWW News Desk
The Brick Theater, Inc. presents a Gemini CollisionWorks production THE MAGNIFICENT AMBERSONS by Orson Welles: A Reconstruction for the Stage as part of The Film Festival: A Theater Festival.
In 1942, Orson Welles completed his second feature film, the follow-up to his masterpiece Citizen Kane, which had been critically lauded but a financial disaster for the studio, RKO Radio Pictures. The Magnificent Ambersons was a 131-minute epic retelling ofBooth Tarkington's classic novel of the destruction of a rich and powerful family by the Industrial Revolution, and Welles thought it an even better film than Kane. Welles then immediately had to leave the country on an assignment to make a documentary at the request of the US Government as part of the war effort. His film was left in the hands of Welles' collaborators and the studio, who previewed the film – with disastrous results – and decided it needed to be "fixed" before a general release.
With Welles attempting to curtail or at least work with them in their efforts by telegram, phone, and letter (he had lost final cut on the film in a contract renegotiation after the failure of Kane). All the remaining footage that had been cut, and all prints of the longer version of the film, were destroyed by the studio. Welles' career never really recovered from the blow.
This production is a live theatrical reconstruction of Welles' original cut of the film, as much as can be reconstructed from the transcripts, photos, and documents that we have. In this version, the story of the Amberson family is expanded back into the epic tragedy Welles intended, with a cast of 20 recreating Welles' cinematic brilliance in the language of live theatre. Also using Bernard Herrmann's entire great original score (Herrmann took his name off the final film after his score was partially replaced), this reconstruction tells the entirestory, not just the star-crossed love story that RKO wanted it to be, of the failure of the land-owning Ambersons and the rise of their friend Eugene Morgan, an inventor of the very automobile that makes the Amberson land worthless, set from the 1880s to 1910s, in a small, midwestern town as it spreads and darkens into a large industrial city.
Ian W. Hill, adaptor, designer, director and narrator of this project, has created 55 stage productions since 1997 with his companyGemini CollisionWorks, including works by Richard Foreman, T.S. Eliot, Clive Barker, Mac Wellman, Ronald Tavel, Jeff Goode, Mark Spitz, and Edward D. Wood, Jr., as well as the original plays World Gone Wrong; Kiss Me, Succubus; At the Mountains of Slumberland; and Even the Jungle (slight return). As a designer (light, sound, projections, sets) and technical/artistic consultant he has worked with many other stage artists and theatres for almost 20 years, and he is currently technical director of The Brick.
The cast of this play includes David Arthur Bachrach*, AaRon Baker, Linda Blackstock, Walter Brandes*, Rebecca Collins*, Ivanna Cullinan*, Sarah Malinda Engelke*, Larry Floyd*, Stephen Heskett*, Justin R.G. Holcomb*, Amy Lizska*, Roger Nasser, Vince Phillip*, Maire-Rose Pike*, Shelley Ray*, Timothy McCown Reynolds*, Bill Weeden*, Natalie Wilder*, Scot Lee Williams
All performances will be at The Brick, 575 Metropolitan Avenue, Williamsburg, Brooklyn 11211, ½ a block from the Lorimer stop of the L train www.bricktheater.com. June 1, 6, 10, 12, 2008 at 8:00 pm. All tickets $15.00. Tickets available at the door or through calling (212-352-3101 or toll-free: 1-866-811-4111).
* Appears Courtesy of Actors Equity Association