GONE WITH THE GUST

by DICK KEREKES & LEISLA SANSOM
The School of the Arts at Players by the Sea presents an annual show which showcases the talents of the current students of the school. The Dual Critics have been privileged to review the last two years and looked forward to this year’s selection, the comedy by Tim Kelly entitled “Gone with the Gust,” a spoof of the movie “Gone with the Wind.”
Players School of the Arts has grown so much that Director Barbara Colaciello used two different casts for this show. Case A performed Friday evening on January 25, followed by a matinee on Saturday, while cast B appeared Saturday evening followed with a matinee on Sunday.
The setting was the Lone Pine Film Studio in Hollywood, California. Players used the set from the recently completed “ Five Guys Named Moe,” which was pretty much an open stage with flooring in black, gray and white, and risers that acted as a second stage. It worked quite well for “Gust” and its large cast. Various set pieces, like desks, chairs and benches were brought on and off when needed.
The studio is going to produce a movie. “Gone With the Gust,” based on the best selling novel by Lucy Belle Bankhead (Olivia Wahby) and they are holding an open casting call for the leading role of Jezebel O’Toole ( The Scarlett O’Hara role in “Gone with the Wind”).
The film’s producers Huckleberry Jones (Jack Dunaway) and Finn (Zai Pennington) are holding open auditions, with the blessing of the film director Mr. Bramwell (Jacob Parkulo) and screen writer Mitzi Dillaway (Kat Rosenthal).
Among those being given consideration for the role is the very well known and temperamental movie star Peggy Tempest (played by Douglas Anderson student Carmen Burbridge). Where Peggy is found, her desperate and kowtowing agent Freddie Dean (Danny Parkulo) can also be found following.
Other females in contention for this coveted role include Cindy Lou Harper (Leah Geraci), the wild and crazy hillbilly type Daisy Lou Bowman (Pressly Pratt), and Vicki Rawlins (Annabelle Barnett). Ms. Rawlins is a Southern gal from Savannah and sings “Que Sera, Sera,” the only song in the show, which is performed at the Magnolia Pageant, led by pageant director Flowerbelle Crouton (Claire Fiegel).
Jezebel’s romantic interest is Lance Saber (the Rhett Butler role). The young good looking actor Monty Missouri (Gory Gann) has been promised the role and is preoccupied with his motorcycle which he imitates riding all over the place. A young studio guide has aspirations of becoming an actor and wants to audition for the Lance role. Rip Page (played with great gusto and humor by Griffin Berse), does not get the role but accepts a role as an understudy.
You can’t run a movie studio without lawyers, and “Gust” has three of them. The studio’s attorney, Chester Houston (Nathan So), is in deep trouble because he has failed to get the author of the novel to sign the release to produce the movie. The capricious Miss Tempest has her own attorney, Regina Adair (Alanis Ramos), and the final attorney for the studio is Beatrice Carroll (Peyton Manley).
Of course, there is always a gossip columnist from the newspapers and Ethel Holt is believably played by Sandy Drezner. Every studio has a receptionist; here Roxanne was played by the very animated Eliza Koran. Lone Pine’s executive secretary is Joyce Edwards (Kelly Alter, who used a very effective English accent in the role). Rounding out the cast was film producer Ruth Wintersole; the boy reporter was Rett Maritato.
Well at this point, you want to know if the film got made. Right? Things all work out when the moody Peggy Tempest decides to retire from show business for a while and young Vicki Rawlins gets the role.
A lot of consideration was given to the costumes, which were for the most part very colorful and often quite sophisticated, with a retro feeling. They included business suits, glamorous Southern Belle gowns with lace parasols, and sleek red gowns, and there were a number of costume changes. Kudos to the costume crew and the stage managers who performed in an exemplary manner.
This was a fun show with lots of laughs, and also a challenging show as all the young actors were playing adults. We were impressed with the sharpness of the line cues and entrances and exits, one of the first very valuable lessons you learn in theatre. We are sure that many of the young performers were on the stage for the first time while others had performed at their schools or with Players in previous years. They all performed well, and the audience certainly enjoyed the production. A number of schools were represented by the performers, including Ponte Vedra High, Fletcher High, Bishop Kenny, St. Paul’s Catholic School, Atlantic Beach Elementary, Beaches Chapel, Landrum Middle School and James Weldon Johnson.
` Congratulations School of the Arts of Players by the Sea, you keep growing and that is because of the quality of the instruction and the support of the theatre staff and volunteers. We are looking forward to next year already.

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