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‘Moonshine’ revival on Clayton’s horizon

“Moonshine and Magnolias” Director Kathryn Wood (left) and Historical Jonesboro/Clayton County, Inc. President Barbara Emert show off a sign for the historical play on Monday. The Historical Jonesboro-commissioned production is set for a 2013 revival.

“Moonshine and Magnolias” Director Kathryn Wood (left) and Historical Jonesboro/Clayton County, Inc. President Barbara Emert show off a sign for the historical play on Monday. The Historical Jonesboro-commissioned production is set for a 2013 revival.

— Producers behind a theatrical presentation of Clayton County’s story are hoping to use the stage to bring new life to the county.

After all, the county’s history involves backwoods alcohol and flowers, otherwise known in the play’s title as “Moonshine and Magnolias.” The play, which recounts several key points in the county’s history, was first produced last year in a workshop format so residents could offer feedback on the production’s development.

Historical Jonesboro/Clayton County Inc. commissioned the play in an effort to follow in the footsteps of other Georgia cities which have seen stage versions of their histories become annual economic generators.

After combing over feedback from residents, “Moonshine and Magnolias” is now set for a stage revival in early 2013.

“This is the opening we’ve been waiting for,” said Historical Jonesboro/Clayton County Inc. President Barbara Emert. “The time is now. Property is cheap, the people are available and people are looking for something to do. There’s this whole mob of people that are in driving range of us who are looking for entertainment.”

The historical society will begin planning for a “Moonshine” revival next month when it holds a planning meeting at Stately Oaks Plantation, at 100 Carriage Lane, in Jonesboro, on Dec. 11. The meeting will be an opportunity for anyone interested in sponsoring the production to step forward, said Emert.

The play will be produced at St. Philip Benizi Catholic Church in Jonesboro in March. Auditions will take place in early January.

“Moonshine and Magnolias” Director Kathryn Wood said the play is presented in vignettes which feature some of the notable personalities from Clayton County’s past, including the first settlers, a woman who gave birth in Jonesboro during the Battle of Jonesborough, “Gone With the Wind” author Margaret Mitchell, a ghost in Jonesboro’s Warren House, Chick-fil-A founder Truett Cathy and Olympic swimmer Steve Lundquist.

“It’s 1845 to the present in just two hours,” said Wood.

And, of course, illegal alcohol is also featured.

“Clayton County was a hotbed for moonshine,” said Emert.

Wood and Emert said the town of Colquitt, in Miller County in southwest Georgia, has been revitalized by its own historical play, entitled “Swamp Gravy.”

“It saved the town,” said Wood.

“They’ve restored the [town’s] old hotel and now there’s all kinds of gift shops and restaurants and the town is packed when they do it,” said Emert. “It’s been amazing for that town and that’s what we’re aiming for.”

Emert said the historical is looking to eventually buy a building in Jonesboro to convert into a small community theater where regular productions of “Moonshine and Magnolias” and other plays can be staged.

Wood said a community theater would also provide an outlet for Clayton County children to do some acting outside of school productions. She said many students from Clayton County Public Schools’ fine arts programs have to go to Atlanta to find other acting opportunities.

“Many of our children are going downtown, to the Alliance Theater and those other theaters downtown, and we need to keep them here,” said Wood.