Spotlight shines on ‘Steel Magnolias’ at South City Theatre
Published 11:50 am Friday, January 8, 2016
By JESSA PEASE / Staff Writer
PELHAM—The ‘80s classic, “Steel Magnolias,” is taking the stage at South City Theatre Jan. 29, and a troupe of women is eagerly preparing for the performance.
“It’s been fun to get to know everybody and actually see the show, as Tannis (McCombs) said, develop,” said Salena Whalen-Stalker, who plays Clairee. “Even though we are still in the raw footage stages, you can see it beginning to come alive and the characters taking shape.”
Lysa Carter directs the show and said she put a special emphasis on character work. As a method director, Cater said she wanted her actresses to have an understanding of who their character is before and after they are on stage as well as what that character’s relationships are.
Carter had each of the actresses create storyboards as representations of the characters. The actresses used printouts and magazines to show their character’s favorite foods, songs and more.
In a show like “Steel Magnolias,” centered on the bond shared by six women in a small southern community, relationships are important both onstage and off.
The cast is made up of Whalen-Stalker, McCombs as Truvy, Suzee Lee as M’Lynn, Christie Connolly as Shelby, Sharon Morgan as Ouiser and Robin Rushing as Annelle. Carter said she feels lucky because the ladies all get along so well.
“I don’t think we’ve made it through an entire rehearsal without cracking up at least once…” Carter said. “They really genuinely like each other and they genuinely get along.”
The cast members all agreed that they mesh well on stage. Lee explained that it has been 20 years since she has been in a show, but her fellow cast members made the transition easy.
“I was pretty nervous coming into it,” she said. “There was no need because these women have made it so easy, because they are so ridiculously talented.”
Rushing, who said she immediately zeroed in on the part of Annelle, and Morgan said that the rehearsal process has been “a blast,” adding that they have both enjoyed being part of this ensemble of women.
Opening night is Jan. 29 at 7:30 p.m., and Carter and the cast said they are all excited to see the final product.
“The payoff is when the audience loves the show as much as you do and they get the jokes and they get the relationships and you see them react,” Carter explained. “This space is so intimate that the actresses will be able to hear every gasp, every snicker, every giggle.”
“Steel Magnolias” will also run Jan. 30 and Feb. 4-6 at 7:30 p.m. and Jan. 31 at 2 p.m. For more information or to purchase tickets, visit Southcitytheatre.com.