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The Magnificent Welles

The Rise & Fall of Orson Welles

Reviews of our video

From Apollo Movie Guide

This play is set on the eve of his turning point from boy genius to Hollywood fodder and Wolland treats the setting less like a hotel room and more like a prison cell.

"...great for Welles aficionados and entertaining for the rest of us."

... this production is great for Welles aficionados and entertaining for the rest of us. ... Welles is unable to change what is happening to his career and—like a caged animal—he paces the room, growling about his life and his nature. This is Welles after he sparred with his Hollywood executives but before his self-destructive and mercurial nature turned him into a bloated parody of himself. Itís Welles before the spark of magic that made him unique was entirely doused.

Over the years, various actors have played Welles in a handful of films about the great man, and Wollandís portrayal stands up in comparison. The Magnificent Welles is an excellent example of the StageDirect series of plays brought to video.

Apollo Movie Guide read the full review

From Filmmaker Bill Krohn

The Magnificent Welles does a great job of getting the facts right about Welles' Hollywood downfall -- something few film historians have bothered to do. The section on Kane is also quite interesting and original in its insights. A good job all around—well acted, well filmed—and a good introduction, for me, to a series I hope to see more of.

Bill Krohn, Co-director/writer/producer of It's All True: Based On An Unfinished Film By Orson Welles,
and Hollywood correspondent for the French Cahiers du Cinema

Reviews of the play

Please note, while Marcus titled his play "Lost Eden," we've retitled the video "The Magnificent Welles." The title is all we changed, and these reviews are from the performance we shot.

From The Seattle Times:

It's the Welles on the other side of the cameras who gets a thorough going-over in Marcus Wolland's compelling and quite touching one-man show, "Lost Eden." It takes place in a Brazilian hotel room just after "Kane" had opened to critical acclaim and while "Ambersons" was going through its final editing stages. Welles had been asked by the State Department to make a goodwill film about South America, and he trusted "Kane's" editor, Robert Wise, to finish "Ambersons" when Welles left the country....

Wolland bears a remarkable resemblance to Welles. There are moments his curling lips, arched eyebrows and body language suggest Welles playing Charles Foster Kane and others when he suggests a more vulnerable side to Welles. ...Wolland, with the help of director David-Edward Hughes, turns the show into a genuine tour de force.

Seattle Times read full review

From Seattle Weekly:

The life of director-actor Orson Welles seems tailor-made for a one-person show. Not only did this fascinating character compile an eventful, erratic career, but the man was simply in love with the sound of his own voice. Marcus Wolland deftly impersonates Welles in this vignette from the height of his public career--as he was still enjoying the success of Citizen Kane while awaiting the release of his true masterpiece, 1942's The Magnificent Ambersons. In a Rio de Janeiro hotel room, Welles recounts his theatrical life to date, punctuated by calls to and from Hollywood, where Ambersons was undergoing its disastrous studio-ordered re-editing.

Seattle Weekly "Critic's Pick" read their review
(half-way down the page)

From Seattle Gay News:

I'm astounded that no one has done a one-person show about Citizen Welles before now. God knows, there's plenty to work with: a brilliant, determined egotist who emerged from a family scarred by schizophrenia, alcohol and early death, who bullshitted his way into the theater at a young age, reveling in all forms of controversy, culminating in hard-won cinematic acclaim.

Lost Eden takes place in a hotel room in Rio, at a watershed point in Welles' career, having finished what he believed to be his finest work, The Magnificent Ambersons. Welles works on his memoirs, pausing to call Hollywood to argue for control over the film, which "tested poorly," and is ultimately edited to suit commoner tastes (proving how little Hollywood has changed in 59 years).

Writer/actor Marcus Wolland is quite simply mesmerizing as Welles. The physical resemblance is there, his mannerisms and facial expressions command undivided attention as effectively as the genuine article, and his presence requires, if not a bigger space, certainly a deeper one than the hallway-like Seattle Public Theatre. He doesn't quite have that unmistakable mahogany vocal tone...but who does? His sonorous low tenor serves very well, and when he says "This is Mr. Orson Welles," you believe.

Seattle Gay News, reprinted with permission

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We recommend The Magnificent Welles for viewers aged 14 and above. Orson Welles was a man of great intensity, and that intensity is evident here.

The Magnificent Welles
2002 - 93 minutes


© 2002 StageDirect, Inc. and others | Photographs by Dani Weiss

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