Theatre — Steel Magnolias

Girls’ night out at the Majestic

By Michelle Saturley [listings@hippopress.com]


Girls rule at the Majestic Theatre in October, with a production of Steel Magnolias opening October 1. The all-female cast plays out their Southern trials, tribulations and friendships in Miss Truvy’s hair salon.

“When I saw that the show was on this season’s schedule, I knew that was the show I wanted to audition for,” said Lynn Feinberg, a volunteer at the theater who will play the role of Ouiser. “I’ve never worked with an all-female cast like this, and I am glad I got the chance.”

About 25 women from the greater Manchester area auditioned for the six-woman show, much to the surprise of director Daniel Barth.

“I really felt like I was able to choose the cream of the crop with this cast,” he said.

While in rehearsal for Magnolias, Barth was also directing the Majestic’s version of Neil Simon’s The Odd Couple.

“It was a vastly different experience, working with a primarily male cast and then switching over for the ladies,” he said.

“Yes, now he’s in touch with his feminine side—his estrogen levels are higher now,” joked Judi Mitchell, who plays M’Lynn.

The ladies were drawn to their roles for different reasons.

“I’ve done the show before, but I played the role of M’Lynn last time,” said Carole Neveaux, who plays Clairee. “At first, I thought I wanted to play that role again, but I am having so much fun with Clairee. She is a smart-ass. She has some of the best one-liners in the script.”

For Gina Carballo, who plays Annelle, this is a chance to break the typecasting cycle.

“Most of the time I am cast in the ingenue role, the ‘cute girl’ role,” she said. “I am so glad Dan took a chance and gave me the opportunity to play the oddball for once.”

“We’ve been having a hard time uglying her up, though,” said Denise Kearns, who plays Truvy.

One of the biggest challenges for the cast was learning to do hair.

“We got lucky, because Carole is a hairdresser,” said Carballo. “We needed her guidance.”

“Yeah, like the time in rehearsal when you just dropped the comb on the floor, picked it up and kept combing,” said Suzanne Watts, who plays Shelby. “That wouldn’t happen in a real salon!”

One thing’s for sure: this cast has done some female bonding, which is important to the dynamics of the show. Each of the ladies brings in snacks and drinks to share for each rehearsal, and they spend a lot of their downtime between scenes giggling and talking.

“There’s a lot of humor to this show, but in the end, it’s a drama,” said Carolyn Mellone-Lagno, assistant director. “And the tragedy that happens in this show makes the friendships of the women even more important to the story.”

Steel Magnolias at the Majestic Theatre, located at 281 Cartier Street, runs October 1 and 2 at 8 p.m., and October 8 and 9 at 8 p.m. A matinée is also scheduled for October 10 at 2 p.m. For tickets and information, call the box office at 669-7469 or go to www.majestictheatre.net
 

—Michelle Saturley

 
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