Argenta Community Theater will produce a stage adaptation of the classic film Mrs. Miniver, which won Oscars for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actress, Best Supporting Actress, Best Screenplay and Best Cinematography in 1942. Producers Vincent Insalaco and Judy Tenenbaum secured rights from Warner Brothers and the estate of Jan Struther, whose novel of the same title was the film’s basis. Insalaco will direct from a script adapted by playwright Judy B. Goss. Performances will be held July 21-26 and July 29-August 1, 2015.
Insalaco reminded Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reporter Eric Harrison that British Prime Minister Winston Churchill declared William Wyler’s film “did more than a flotilla of destroyers” for the war effort, increasing Americans’ enthusiasm to aid England’s defense. Harrison summarized the story’s high points including “a strong British woman whose husband is helping evacuate British soldiers under fire at Dunkirk, whose son has joined the Royal Air Force as German planes threaten England and whose biggest challenge may be facing a woundd German pilot shot down near her home.”
The role of Mrs. Miniver will be played by Paige Reynolds, a classically trained Shakespearean actress who teaches English at the University of Central Arkansas. Auditions yielded a cast of twenty-six to portray the Miniver family and villagers of Belham, site of their country home Starlings. Goss has retained most scenes from the film and has created a “memory frame,” through narrated reminiscences of the now elderly Judy, the Minivers’ young daughter during the story’s war years. A hallmark of Mrs. Miniver is strong supporting female roles: Carol Beldon, who marries Vin Miniver, and her imperious grandmother Lady Beldon, who opposes the union. Expressing appreciation for the characters, Insalaco said, “We Americans know how our soldiers and family members contributed to the war effort, but little do we realize how many incredibly strong women held their families and communities together to survive in England.”
Insalaco and Tenenbaum have co-produced three previous Argenta Community Theater summer shows, all musicals: Cabaret, Jesus Christ Superstar and Fiddler on the Roof. Mrs. Miniver will contain period music under the direction of Kurt Kennedy.
For further information and updates about the production, visit the Argenta Community Theater web site.