GCRC prepares to stage popular 'Steel Magnolias'

2/12/2013

By RACHAEL GRAY

By RACHAEL GRAY

rgray@gctelegram.com

Those who have seen the movie "Steel Magnolias" haven't seen the whole show.

Luckily, the Garden City Recreation Commission's theater program is putting on the stage version of the show.

"If you've seen the movie, the play is a little different," said GCRC Arts Director Brian Seagraves.

Seagraves is urging the public to see the show, which will take the stage at 7:30 p.m. March 1 and 2 and 2:30 p.m. March 3. A special "pay what you can" performance is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Feb. 28. The performance is open to the public.

Seagraves is working with a stage crew and a cast of six women.

"The show requires a cast of strong women ... at times larger than life," he said.

Seagraves said the show represents real women with real struggles.

"It requires women who can bring that strength, but with great comedic timing," he said.

The play takes place in a beauty salon, as six very different women come together to share their secrets, fears and love for one another while engaging the audience in hysterical and neighborly gossip, according to StageAgent.com.

"From weddings to divorces, babies to funerals, new beginnings to happy endings, they share each moment in their lives with grace, determination, and perfectly coiffed hair," the website says.

"Steel Magnolias" was made popular in 1989 after a movie was made starring Julia Roberts, Dolly Parton, Shirley MacLaine, Olympia Dukakis, Sally Field and Daryl Hannah.

"It's got a little bit of everything," Seagraves said.

He said the play has moments where the audience will be on the floor laughing and moments that will "tear your heart strings out," he said.

"It's a lot of fun, but has a great message," he said.

A cast of community members adds to the allure.

"Plus, it's your community members. It's people that you know on the stage portraying these characters," Seagraves said.

Misty Baldwin plays Ouiser Boudreaux.

Baldwin likes playing Boudreaux because the character has witty comebacks.

"It's just got some amazing women playing these roles. It's definitely a good story. I mean, the movie was awesome, but this is definitely going to be something that people will want to come see," she said.

Erin O'Neal plays Annelle, who is new to town, and very mysterious.

"She is really welcomed into the fold of these women, who have known each other all of their lives. It's a neat story," she said.

O'Neal said she likes seeing how the women connect.

"You can see the spirit of friendship. They're all very sarcastic and silly with each other, but you can tell they all really love each other," she said.

Jeanil Hain plays M'Lynn, who has a lot of differences from Hain. M'Lynn has daughters and Hain has four sons. She said it's a different experience going through weddings and becoming a grandmother for the first time.

Hain said it's different than the movie.

"I would say that when you come in, don't expect it to be exactly like the movie. Our characters are brought to life in front of you, so you get to experience it more. It's really going to be neat," she said.

Melissa Fulton plays Clairee, a recently-widowed, wealthy woman.

"She is fun to play because she is resourceful, and she is a little bit snarky now and then..." Fulton said.

Fulton said the play is a terrific ensemble piece and has no small part.

"It's a wonderful show about friends, friendship, and how people support each other. And there's a lot of funny stuff in it," she said.

Melissa Gallegos plays Truvy, the owner of the salon. She said she likes playing Truvy because the character is a peacemaker, and a person the other characters go to for advice.

"She holds the group together. She's the glue that binds," she said.

Gallegos said the play is more complex than the movie, although the movie has different events and settings.

"There's a lot more depth in the characters that they go into, and I really like that and appreciate that about the script," she said.

Alison Bridget Chambers, Liberal, plays Shelby, who is M'Lynn's daughter.

Chambers said the character thinks she is smarter than her mother, and she often butts heads with M'Lynn.

"And what daughter can't relate to that?" she said.

Chambers, who has seen a Broadway version of the show, said there is a reason "Steel Magnolias" is so popular.

"It's all in the writing. It's so easy for us to do our jobs, considering how funny and brilliant this is. I feel like I don't have to work at all. I just have to have a nice little conversation with my friends," she said.

She urges the public to check out the show.

"If you have any appreciation for art, for your friends, for relationships, then you're going to love it..." she said.

Tickets for the show are on sale now. Adults are $10, and students and Arts Angels are $5. Tickets are sold at the Garden City Recreation Commission, 310 N. Sixth St., or from cast and crew. Tickets also will be available at the door.

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