Stephen F. Austin State University

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SFA to open comedy, 'Steel Magnolias'

June 19, 2012 - Sylvia Bierschenk
Conroe junior Carolynn Ohlenburger applies the finishing touches to the wedding dress used in the SFA School of Theatre's production of Robert Harling's "Steel Magnolias." The play, which is part of SFA's summer theatre season, will open at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, June 28, in W.M. Turner Auditorium.

NACOGDOCHES, TEXAS - The Stephen F. Austin State University School of Theatre will open its second show of the summer season, Robert Harling's "Steel Magnolias," at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, June 28, in W.M. Turner Auditorium.

Director Jason Davids Scott, SFA assistant professor of theatre, invites all of East Texas to come watch the play about the women of Chinquapin Parish who gather at Truvy's Beauty Salon to dish the latest dirt and get each other through the best and worst of times.

Scott and the cast agree that one of the strengths of the play is the believability of the characters.

"Everyone has grieved and laughed through tears, and everyone will identify with these wonderful women in some way," said Richmond sophomore Katy Rutherford, who plays Shelby Eatenton.

"And if you cannot say, 'Wow, I'm just like that character,' then you can say, 'Wow, she is just like my Mom,'" added Kennard sophomore Courtney Cole who portrays Truvy's hair dresser, Annelle.

The characters' authenticity is enhanced by the costumes designed by Broadway costumer Barry Doss. The Pollok native was a teenager during the 1980s (the decade in which the play is set), and his own mother is a hairdresser.

"So he knows the culture, knows the period and knows the characters with great intimacy," said Scott. "Having Barry on our artistic team is a true blessing."

The plot itself is based on the true events from Harling's family. In order to gain a sense of the story's real-life setting, the cast visited several locations in Natchitoches, La., Harling's hometown, and spoke with the playwright's father.

White Oak senior Lindsay Love, who plays the sometimes grumpy widow Ouiser Boudreaux, said the trip allowed her to feel more connected to her character and to the plot. "It's a story that is still relevant today and can still strike a chord with people."

"Steel Magnolias" will be presented six more times after the June 28 opening. Additional 7:30 performances will be offered on Friday, June 29; Friday, July 6; Saturday, July 7; and Tuesday, July 10. Matinees at 2 p.m. will be offered on Thursday, July 5; and Sunday, July 8.

The other show included in SFA's summer theatre schedule is the one-hour family musical "How I Became a Pirate" by Janet Vogt and Mark Friedman. It will be presented at 6:30 p.m. Saturday, June 30; and Saturday, July 14. Matinees at 2 p.m. will be presented on Sunday, July 1; and Tuesday, July 3. Morning performances at 10 a.m. will be offered on Thursday, July 12; and Friday, July 13.

Tickets for "Steel Magnolias" are $12 for adults and $6 for seniors and students. Tickets for "How I Became a Pirate" are $6 for individuals or $5 each for groups of 20 or more. For tickets or more information, go to www.finearts.sfasu.edu or call (936) 468-6407 or (888) 240-ARTS.

W.M. Turner Auditorium is located in the Griffith Fine Arts Building,2222 Alumni Drive.