The Scene:

Steel Mag­no­lias

The Sentinel-Record - HER - Hot Springs - - Contents - Story by ALI­SON HAR­BOUR

The “Steel Mag­no­lias” cast of six ac­tresses will bring their char­ac­ters’ south­ern grit and del­i­cate charm to stage in the com­edy-drama about the strength and love of th­ese friends. The main stage pro­duc­tion of Robert Har­ling’s play con­cerns gos­sipy women who bond in a small-town beauty par­lor and re­veal the strength and pur­pose­ful­ness which un­der­lies their an­tic ban­ter sched­uled Feb. 7–9 and again Feb. 14–16 at Hot Springs Pocket Com­mu­nity The­ater, 170 Ravine St. Nev­er­the­less, the ac­tresses’ de­vel­op­ment of the char­ac­ters will not hap­pen over night. “It takes weeks and weeks. It’s com­ing to re­hearsals, it’s learn­ing lines when you are home, think­ing and think­ing and think­ing. At this point, I think pearls are go­ing to be Clairee’s sig­na­ture,” says Ann Wil­son in the role of the ex-mayor’s wife who has an opin­ion about ev­ery­thing. “I felt a kin­ship with Clairee and I’m anx­ious to de­velop that char­ac­ter and to learn more about her, to be­come her,” Wil­son said. Like Clairee, each char­ac­ter’s lines are su­perb and the en­sem­ble piece will be spe­cial ex­pe­ri­ence for each cast mem­ber. Di­rec­tor Bar­bara Mor­gan says it’s the kind of play she thinks Pocket au­di­ences will ap­pre­ci­ate. “You laugh, you cry, the char­ac­ters grow and change and have real re­la­tion­ships with each other and that is fun to play as op­posed to some­thing that is just light, and fluffy and su­per­fi­cial – which is also fun to do – but it’s fun to some­times get in there and dig around and find char­ac­ters and hurt some­times and cry some­times and laugh a lot.” The cast’s friend­ships are the­ater-ori­ented but go be­yond that, since some of the ac­tresses in “Steel Mag­no­lias” first brought rich char­ac­ter­i­za­tions to the Pocket stage in “The Dixie Swim Club.” “We de­cided to do ‘The Dixie Swim Club’ which was five women who age from 44 to 77. It was well re­ceived and peo­ple could iden­tify with the close re­la­tion­ships

they had. They met once a year over all th­ese years and had been on a swim team to­gether,” says Linda Rickel who plays Ouiser in “Steel Mag­no­lias.” “The au­di­ence picks up on the fact that there are friends up there work­ing to­gether or act­ing to­gether and re­late to those long re­la­tion­ships,” Dod­son said. Al­though the Pocket The­atre pro­duced “Steel Mag­no­lias” five years ago, Dod­son says the lat­est ef­fort will be com­pletely dif­fer­ent. “It’s one of those in­stances where it flows through dif­fer­ent ac­tors and a di­rec­tor and be­comes what we all con­trib­ute to it.” At the Pocket, ev­ery­one who has stage parts or works be­hind the scenes finds cre­ative ways to keep the doors open, be­cause the com­mu­nity the­ater is an old build­ing. “We like the cen­tral lo­ca­tion but it does take a lot of work and it’s all run by vol­un­teers,” Rickel said. “We don’t have paid staff and it is a lot of work and every­body has to com­mit to paint­ing sets and set­ting them up and get­ting props and get­ting your own cos­tumes and so it’s a com­mu­nity the­ater.” “Some of the things you own are on stage for six weeks,” Dod­son said, “while there is a big hole in your home. “You know when you are in com­mu­nity the­ater when more of the things you own are on the stage than in your house. You are paint­ing the floor on stage on Mon­day and act­ing on the stage on Fri­day.”

Photo by Mara Kuhn

From left, Mary Cur­rey as Truvy, Bar­bara Mor­gan as M’Lynn, Ann Wil­son as Clairee and Linda Rickel as Ouiser

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