'Steel Magnolias' bonds actors

By Bethany Gallimore
On March 3, 2014

“Steel Magnolias” brings fun and friendship to the Fowler Center stage as an all-female comedy set in a 1980s beauty parlor.

The two-act play performed sold-out crowds Friday and Saturday nights, and has two more performances scheduled this week.

The comedy’s action takes place in a Deep South household hair salon and envelops proprietor Truvy, newcomer Annelle, mother M’Lynn, daughter Shelby, and neighbors Clairee and Ouiser. The six women form an impromptu gossip club, social circle and support group while primping, highlighting and styling their way to beauty.

The camaraderie displayed on stage is reflective of the virtual sisterhood of the cast off stage, according to freshman theater major Becky Adams of Morrilton, who plays Shelby.

“The most memorable experience for me has been bonding with the other cast members. The connection that I’ve made with all of these wonderful ladies, we’re a really tight and awesome cast,” Adams said. “I’m excited to perform every time.”

“We had so much fun working with this show because we’re such good friends. Acting on stage just reaffirmed that,” said Dru Ergle (Ouiser), a junior theater major of Jonesboro and veteran performer on the A-State stage.

Beyond the bond of the stage, individual cast members have worked to develop their own distinctive character personalities.

Adams said even though her character Shelby is older than her, she still drew on the mother-daughter relationship when sympathizing with her character.
Sophomore theater major Morgan Carvell of Bentonville had a large role to fill in her character Truvy, the owner of the beauty salon and honorary leader of the group of women.

“Truvy’s very famously known as Dolly Parton,” Carvell said. “I wanted to make her my own.”

To succeed in portraying Truvy as uniquely hers, Carvell created an elaborate backstory to the character including her childhood, marriage and first son.

“A really big thing for me is backstory,” Carvell said. “I can look back and see who she is.”

The theater department also brought in a professional beautician, Jeri Sanders of Spoil Me Rotten Salon, to help teach the girls the how to create the up-dos they were to fix on stage.

“It took a lot of practice,” Carvell said. “I worked on that hair for so long.”

According to students, the finished product has paid off.

Saturday night was the first time Molly Johnson, a senior psychology major of Jonesboro, saw the play.

“I had no idea what to expect,” Johnson said. “It was really good. Those girls did a great job.”

Veteran “Steel Magnolias” fans can also enjoy the A-State rendition, according to Daisy Reding, a sophomore health promotions major of Jonesboro.

“I loved it. Every single time, I cry,” Reding said. “I’m probably going to go back Monday or Tuesday.”

For some patrons, “Steel Magnolias” draw is the character development throughout the play.

“My favorite character was Ouiser (played by Dru Ergu), because she brought out the comedic side,” said Kailey Nix, a sophomore nutrition major of Jonesboro.

Other cast members included Fallon Howley, a freshman theater major of Sherwood playing Annelle; Virginia Hirsch, a sophomore theater major of Cabot playing Clairee; and Lisa Bohn, assistant professor in the A-State theater department playing M’Lynn.

The play was written by Robert Harling and is directed by ASU professor of theater Molly Simpson.

“Steel Magnolias” will perform Monday and Tuesday nights at 7:30 in the Fowler Center. Tickets are $8 in advance, $9 over phone or internet and $10 at the door. For ticket information, call 870-972-2781 or visit tickets.astate.edu.

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