Robert Harling's Steel Magnolias opens at the Greenhouse Theatre in Woodcreek Friday, February 25th, and runs weekends through March 13th. Presented by the Wimberley Players, Friday and Saturday evening performances are at
8:00 pm with Sunday matinees at 2:30 pm. This deeply moving comedy/drama was an instant hit on Broadway in 1987 and has become one of the most often-produced plays in the country. The high-profile film version, familiar to many, was released in 1989, and includes a number of significant changes from the original script.
Steel Magnolias, the author's first attempt at script writing, is a tribute to the memory of his sister, Susan, a young mother who died of diabetes. The title clearly indicates the character of the six women in Harling's story of love and heroism. Magnolia blossoms are beautiful and short-lived, easily destroyed by the elements. A steel magnolia, however, captures the beauty of the real blossom but is far more resistant to the afflictions of an unforgiving world. These women show a beauty that withstands the hardships of life. They are not fragile. They possess the steel they need to suffer pain and loss and bounce back with a joking defiance. "Life goes on." The clever, funny dialogue carries an underlying strength that gives the characters a special quality. In the words of the author, the women are witty, intelligent, and, above all, real.
Director David Bisett, a graduate of Southwest Texas State University with a degree in Theater Arts, has a long history with the Wimberley Players, having served as past president of the Board of Directors and acted and directed many shows. He assisted Lee Colee in directing the 2004 Players' production of 110 in the Shade, and says he has "..re-discovered the 'love' in his 'love/hate' relationship with theater." He has chosen a talented and experienced cast to portray Harling's steel magnolias. Listed in order of appearance, they are Carla Daws, Lizzie Wells, Judith Laird, Katie Combs, Gina McClure, and Priya Hudson-DiTraglia. Bisett is ably assisted by Jana White as Producer and Lee Colee'-Atnip as Assistant Director.
The action takes place at Truvy's beauty salon in the town of Chinquapin, Louisiana, where all the ladies who are "anybody" come to have their hair done. The outspoken, wisecracking Truvy dispenses shampoos and free advice to all her patrons, helped by her new assistant Annelle. The story centers around M'Lynn, a socially prominent career woman, and her daughter Shelby who is about to be married. Two more regulars at Truvy's are Clairee, grand-dame, eccentric, widow of the former mayor, and Ouiser, the town's rich curmudgeon who insists she's not crazy. She's "just been in a bad mood for 40 years."
Carla Daws (Truvy) has been a frequent volunteer with the Wimberley Players on stage, behind the curtain, and in the tech booth since she and husband John moved here in 1999. She has appeared in community theater productions throughout Texas, with acting credits at the Greenhouse that include The Trip to Bountiful, The Dining Room, and Anything Goes. A rough cut of her first short film, The Ranch, recently screened in Austin, is in final edit.
Katie Combs (Shelby) fell in love with the theatre in second grade, and this devotion has led her from play to play, pursuing her dream of becoming a professional actress. Her favorite roles include "Rosemary" in Picnic, "Mrs. Potts" in Beauty and the Beast, and "Ginny" in Relatively Speaking with the Wimberley Players. This is her second casting in Steel Magnolias, having played the role of "Clairee" in 2000.
Gina McClure (M'Lynn) was stage manager last spring for On Golden Pond and played Officer Grant in the offbeat comedy, Cahoots, She has performed in a variety of roles with various community theatre groups before she and her family moved to Wimberley. This is Gina's second time to be cast in Steel Magnolias. She played Clairee in a production nine years ago, and feels this play "has a perfect blend of richness of character and her favorite type of dialogue, ranging from laughter to tears."
Priya Hudson DiTraglia (Ouiser) has performed in school and theatre productions since her youth. In 2003 she was a Tonkawa medicine woman in Star of the Hills at the EmilyAnn Theatre, and held several roles, including a tall "guy" in a barbershop quartet in the Players' production, The Music Man. In 2004 Priya performed as a soloist, an ensemble member, and a dancer in the Broadway Musical Revue at the Greenhouse, and as Olive Barrow in 110 in the Shade.
Judith Laird (Clairee) first appeared as a mischievous dog in Sylvia at the Greenhouse in 1998 and has held several starring roles in the past 6 years, including Dial "M" For Murder, Cahoots, and The Odd Couple (Female Version). Judith has produced several shows, designed sets, and costumed more than a few actors. Having completed six years on the Wimberley Players' Board of Directors, she continues her off-stage duties as Artistic Director of the Players in 2005.
Lizzie Wells (Annelle) has cultivated her thespian nature since childhood, and comes from a long line of "capricious actors and neurotic writers" (her words). A recent high school graduate, she has taken a year off to work for a local publication and explore future options. She will be moving to Southern California in the fall to pursue a college degree in film and psychology.
Reservations for this skillfully crafted tale "suffused with humor and tinged with tragedy" (The New York Post) can be made with Visa/MasterCard at any time by calling (512) 847-0575 or, beginning
February 21st, you can purchase your $13 tickets at the Box Office located in the Ozona Motor Bank lobby on River Road. Box Office hours are Monday-Friday 1-5 pm.
-- Carolyn Hart --
Magnolias, or Why the G.R.I.T.S Are So Gritty
A glimpse at some of the most outstanding (and
interesting) Southern women of the last 100 years.