GECA to present ‘Steel Magnolias’

Published 12:02 am Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Local women will be bringing the popular southern play “Steel Magnolias” to life this week.

The Greater Escambia Council for the Arts is presenting the play Oct. 15-18 at the art center on Trammell Street.

A cast of six women fills out the production with each cast as the characters from the play.

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GECA Director and CEO Jerry Janes said the play is a tale of concerned southern ladies in a small-town beauty parlor.

“There are six women, and Trudy Jones the owner of the shop,” Janes said. “The location is where anybody that’s somebody in town comes to have their hair done in town.

“The new assistant, Annelle, is unsure if she’s married or not,” he said.

Angi Jones is playing Jones and Katherine Eby plays Annelle.

Janes said Annelle’s character is new in the Louisiana town where the play is set. Trudy is the outspoken, wise-cracking typical salonist who knows all of the gossip and issues, he said.

“Ouiser is the eccentric millionaire,” he said. “Ms. Clairee is the southern dame, and says what’s on her mind. Shelby is the pretty girl in town and is about to be married.”

Dr. Deborah Bishop plays Ouiser, and Grace Terry plays Shelby.

Shelby’s mother, M’Lynn is played by Sharon Poulsen.

The plot of the play follows Shelby from the first act getting ready to be married. However, the audience is told up front that she shouldn’t have kids due to her diabetes, Janes said.

“As the play progress, she’s now married and she and her husband decide to have children,” he said. “She gets pregnant, and lets her friends know. Her mother isn’t delighted because it puts her life at risk.”

Janes said as the play progresses, the story follows Shelby having her baby, but the pregnancy took its toll on her body. Because of her diabetes, Shelby lost one of her kidneys. M’Lynn gave her one of her kidneys, but in the end, Shelby passes away.

Janes said GECA tends to hold a woman-centered production once a year.

“A year and a half ago, we were originally going to do ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ for the second year in a row, but we had an issue to get rights from the publisher.”

Janes said “Steel Magnolias” was originally scheduled for the spring, but it was moved up months ahead.

“It’s a typical southern play where we have characters in a small town in the south,” he said. “We have basically women talking about everything under the sun. It has its highs and lows, from very comedic moments to all of the characters at some point seeing what happens to Shelby. Then, they realize their mortality.”

Show time Thursday through Saturday is at 7 p.m., and Sunday’s showing is at 2 p.m.