Laced with southern sass and spines of steel, it’s a celebration 50 years in the making.
“Every show is about the celebration,” said Tammie McKenzie, director of theater and director of Steel Magnolias.
For McKenzie, this production is extra special because it marks the first show she has ever directed twice in her 20 years at Malone. Steel Magnolias was first performed on the Malone stage in 1996.
As McKenzie’s first repeat show, it has brought some new trials to the production process.
“One of the challenges for me is to accept that people are going to do different characterizations,” McKenzie said. “They are equally as good, but very different.”
Steel Magnolias shows the journey of six women in Louisiana struggling through life at their favorite beauty parlor. They learn to lean on each other for survival amidst the joys and pains of their lives.
“This is a show for everybody,” said Jim Brothers, scenic designer and technical director.
For Brothers, the show is more than just the script. Steel Magnolias is also about the longevity of life and the history of theatre at Malone.
Brothers said the show serves as a point of connection because we all experience pain, loss and laughter. It comes down to supporting each other.
According to Brothers, the support in Steel Magnolias is also relevant to theatre.
“Theatre is a fellowship,” Brothers said. “When you’re in a show, you get close.”
“It’s a really cool opportunity to get to know people,” said Rachel Criswell, freshman early childhood education and intervention specialist major and cast member. “It’s a way to connect with people I wouldn’t have met without the show.”
The six women of the cast have grown as friends during the rehearsal period, and they all spoke on the anticipation surrounding the 50th anniversary.
“I know how special it is,” said Hannah Morgan, junior psychology major and cast member.
[pullquote]“Theatre is a fellowship,” Brothers said.[/pullquote]
Both Morgan and Criswell said they are excited to be a part of the celebration.
McKenzie and Brothers are in the process of trying to bring back much of the original cast for one of the shows to commemorate the occasion.
McKenzie said the proximity of the previous cast was a contributing factor in selecting to perform Steel Magnolias.
“It makes me a little nervous,” said Patty Rhinehart, junior communication arts major and cast member, on the idea of performing for the original cast. “I feel really cool and excited about it.”
As a member of the scenography class, Rhinehart has also had the opportunity to work on the set with Brothers and members of the introduction to theatre class.
The all-female cast is unique from other productions, and it creates a different dynamic between the cast and crew.
“I love working with them,” said Buddy Lee, freshman communication arts major and stage manager for Steel Magnolias. “We all jive together really well.”
Steel Magnolias tells a dynamic tale of the lives of six women, and even more, it tells a piece of the story of theatre at Malone. The production is a celebration of 50 years of hard work and creativity from countless students.
Alicia Meyer is a contributing writer for The Aviso AVW.