By Cathy Johnson
Even though the script is now 31 years old and the play has been produced countless times by professionals and amateurs, Steel Magnolias is both different and new with every production and each individual performance. Artworks’ upcoming production even features actresses who have been in the play previously in different roles. Yet each time this cast comes together for rehearsal, they discover something different, something new about the play and about themselves.
In a recent conversation prior to a rehearsal, cast members shared some of their thoughts about the experience of producing this play. “It’s about the dynamic that women have,” was one comment. “It’s about the beauty of vulnerability, that they are able to be vulnerable with each other, and that leads to strength.” That observation is echoed in the play’s title, with the vulnerability and delicacy of magnolia blossoms coupled and contrasted with the strength of steel.
Another way to look at it came from the actress portraying the beauty shop proprietor who said that “preparing for this is hard, like steel, and the actual performances, those are the magnolias.” No two days are ever alike in a beauty shop, and the difference of a day brings a difference in each character. Each actress also brings her current day to her character and to the ensemble as well.
Whether you have seen Steel Magnolias before, either as live theater or as the movie, you are still in for a treat, as the current cast has a wealth of life experiences with which to imbue their characters. Director Wendy Samuels has facilitated the process of each actress finding her own character rather than having one be imposed on her, creating a true ensemble for the audience to enjoy.
Truvy’s Beauty Spot is a place where women find strength in each other. And through the characters’ struggles with life and the other humans in it, the audience will find strength as well and perhaps even pick up a few pointers on how to tune to the emotional side of our relationships.
Artworks invites you to spend an evening at Truvy’s Beauty Spot with Jamie Samuels (Truvy), Kelley Samuels (M’lynn), Audree Stephens (Shelby), Emily Aslakson (Annelle), Suzette Compton (Ouiser) and Ginny Kerwin (Clairee). The Intimate Theater project is perfect for this show, since all the action takes place in the beauty shop, which, by the way, is a place with definite feminine vibes. Three evening performances will be presented at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, June 28 through Saturday June 30. An afternoon matinee will be on Sunday, July 1 at 2:30 p.m. Tickets are $15 and are available at the Painted Turtle Gift Shop in the Artworks building or online at EventBrite.
Sponsors for this all-female cast show are also all women: Nancy Baldwin; Judge Susan A. Grant, retired; Judge Kimberly Booher; Kristi Haik; Gheretta Harris; Shelly Pearcy; Lynne Scheible; and Robbie Teahan.