Philip Drama Club to present “Steel Magnolias” June 2-4
Actor and playwright Robert Harling wrote “Steel Magnolias” in 1987... first as a short story following the death of his sister Susan from diabetic related complications. His intent was to leave a legacy to his sister’s young son. It soon turned into the play and movie that audiences still love. Philip Drama first performed the play in 1994 and decided that this play was worthy of a reprise with three of the original actors and three new ones rounding out the dynamic cast of strong southern women. Everything they talk about in the play is true and all the characters are based on his mother’s friends in Natchitoches, Alabama. The play is full of humorous one-liners and the opportunity for plenty of laughs; but, the emotions portrayed by the characters in the final scene will bring a tear to even the strong women of Truvy’s Salon.
A veteran talent on the Philip stage, Deb Smith plays the role of Truvy... the glue that holds the shop and friends together and is considered the best salon in town because there is no such thing as natural beauty and her job is to fix that! Her new hire, Annelle, is a struggling quiet young girl trying to determine whether she is married or not but finally comes to peace through prayer. She promises that her personal tragedy will not interfere with her ability to do good hair. Abbi McDaniel is perfect in the timid, understated but profoundly tender role of Annelle.
Another beloved veteran, Marcy Ramsey, is the former mayor’s wife, athletic affectionado and full of memorable comments such as “if you can’t say anything nice about anybody... come sit by me!” And, she nearly always has company in her space! She and her good friend Quiser, the irascible old curmudgeon who has been in a bad mood for forty years and has no intention of changing, is superbly portrayed by another talented veteran, Carmen Fees.
Rounding out the cast are Missy Koester as M’Lynn, the distraught, worried mother of the bride who has no other goal in life but to see that her only daughter is happy and stays healthy. Her final scene poignantly portrays every emotion a parent feels when events turn tragic. Her daughter, Shelby, is determined to marry, have children and watch her grandchildren play on the porch. Pink is her happy place and signature color. But all the pink in the world cannot overcome the tragedy of her health complications.
In 1994, when Philip Drama first performed Steel Magnolias, it had the talents of Bruce Kroetch and Jeanne Hunt and this year’s performance is dedicated to their memory. Bruce directed the play and very wisely commented that he may have started out directing the play but soon realized he took direction very well from the six stong women! Over the years, Bruce directed, acted and was the chief set designer and builder for innumerable productions. Much of what you see for the wall sets were constructed by Bruce... we miss him.
Jeanne and her husband Larry were huge supporters of every production that Philip Drama ever did. Larry built elaborate sets with a perfection unmatched. Jeanne was the steady hand, the able prompter and so willing to do whatever needed to be done. Their financial support was endless as well as their wise counsel. Jeanne was the prompter for Steel Magnolias and was the backstage emotional support system. Every actor knew that Jeanne had everything under control.
Steel Magnolias will be performed by the Philip Drama Group at the Philip School Fine Arts Center on June 2 at 7 p.m.; June 3 at 7 p.m.; and a June 4 matinee at 2 p.m. The play is directed by Mark Nelson and Diane Walker. Tickets are available at American National/Parsons Insurance in Philip.