‘Steel Magnolias’ at the Phipps Center for the Arts“Steel Magnolias,” the comedy-drama by Robert Harling, will be performed April 17 through May 3 at the Phipps Center for the Arts, 109 Locust Street, Hudson, Wis.
“Steel Magnolias,” the comedy-drama by Robert Harling, will be performed April 17 through May 3 at the Phipps Center for the Arts, 109 Locust Street, Hudson, Wis.
The action centers around Truvy’s beauty parlor and the Southern ladies who regularly gather there. Helped by her eager new assistant, Annelle (Clara Ashwood, Hudson), the outspoken, wise-cracking Truvy (Charlotte Kodner, Apple Valley) dispenses shampoos and free advice to the town’s rich curmudgeon, Ouiser (Mary Amel, Woodbury); an eccentric millionaire, Miss Clairee (Diana Swanson, Lake Elmo), who has a raging sweet tooth; and the local social leader, M’Lynn (Ruth Mandsager, Lauderdale), whose daughter, Shelby (Mariah Christensen, St. Paul), is about to marry a “good ol’ boy.”
The drama begins on the morning of Shelby’s wedding and covers events over the next three years, including Shelby’s decision to have a child despite having Type 1 diabetes and the complications that result from the decision.
We also get a glimpse of the unlikely friendship between Clairee and Ouiser; Annelle’s transformation from a shy, anxious newcomer in town to a party girl, then to a religious fundamentalist; and Truvy’s relationships with the men in her family.
Although the main storyline involves Shelby, her mother, and Shelby’s medical battles, the underlying group friendship among all six women is prominent throughout.
The original stage production opened at the WPA Theatre, Off-Broadway in New York City in 1987. The premiere London production was produced in 1989 at the Lyric Theatre.
A film version was released by Tri-Star Pictures in 1989, and would go on to gross more than $83.7 million at the box office. Harling adapted his own play, which was heavily rewritten to incorporate many more characters.
The film starred Dolly Parton as Truvy, Olympia Dukakis as Clairee, Shirley MacLaine as Ouiser, Sally Field as M’Lynn, Julia Roberts as Shelby and Daryl Hannah as Annelle. Roberts received her first Oscar nomination, for best supporting actress.
The play is still popular today and has frequent productions mounted throughout the United States. Currently, an off-Broadway revival of the play is being planned for August 2009. So far, Mayim Bialik and Shelley Duvall have been confirmed to star.
“Steel Magnolias” will be performed April 17 through May 3 on Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. as well as Sundays at 2 p.m. on the main stage.
Tickets are $22 for adults and $15 for all students, with a $2 discount for the opening weekend, and a $2 discount for seniors on the Sunday matinees.
Reservations may be made by contacting the Phipps ticket office at (715) 386-8409 or online at www.ThePhipps.org.