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‘Steel Magnolias’ offered in Buckhannon

May 1, 2014

BUCKHANNON - Buckhannon Community Theatre is proud to present its latest production, kicking off the 2014 season this weekend with the comedy-drama "Steel Magnolias."

The touching show, written by Richard Harling and adapted for film in both 1989 and 2012, revolves around Truvy's Beauty Parlor in a small parish in modern-day Louisiana, and recounts the story of a close-knit circle of friends whose lives intersect there. The show is directed by Laura J. Meese of Buckhannon, features a talented cast of female actresses from the region and offers an updated and unique take on the well-known characters.

"I enjoy the ensemble aspect of this show because it has allowed me to forge relationships with six fantastic women," Meese said about working with this particular cast. "All of these women are mature, intelligent and compassionate; and I would not have had the opportunity to get to know all of them if the show did not feature six main characters very equally."

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From left, Jessica Jenkins, Rise Hanifan and Jill Okes performs a scene of a Buckhannon Community Theatre production of “Steel Magnolias” during a rehearsal.

The cast includes Lee Barbo, Rise Hanifan, Jessica Jenkins, Leah Propst Morehead and Jill Okes, all residents of Buckhannon.

"It has been a fantastic opportunity to work with such a talented group of women, and observe how we each subtly slip into our quirky, humorous and serious roles," said Okes.

"I'm so excited to have the opportunity to be in one of my favorite shows," Hanifan said. "(It) is a show that is sure to have you on a roller coaster of emotions, and I love it."

Meese said the production was updated "to reflect the current era" but the focus was on the ensemble rather than narrowing the perspective to those directly affecting the plot. "In this we have retained much of the communal spirit of the original play...while hopefully making it more accessible to a modern audience," Meese said.

"When auditioning actresses for the roles, I tried to match parings based on chemistry," Meese continued. "The relationships drive the characterization and plot, and I did not want to ignore what the actresses could produce together naturally."

The cast seems to have enjoyed the process as well.

"Working with these amazing ladies has been wonderful," said Morehead.

"Just like the characters we portray on-stage, we have grown to care about each other, joke with each other, sympathize with each other, and laugh with each other," Jenkins said about her experience in the show.

Meese said what she loves about the show is the variety of relationships between the women, the foreshadowing of what is ultimately to come, and the obvious struggle between rational intelligence and emotional desires.

"I love that all of these themes culminate into a singular, simple story with rich characters and flavorful dialogue," she said. "I hope that the audience will see the specific nuances these women bring to the roles. I have watched these characters bloom from the women involved, and I have been most impressed to find some truly original interpretations of the script. I am sure even the audience members who have seen the show before have never seen it precisely like this."

"This is the first time I've ever played more than a simple supporting role," said Barbo on her work in the show. "If there's one thing I've learned from this experience, it's that the family ties that bind theater folk together are stronger than steel."

"Steel Magnolias" will be performed at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, with a matinee Sundayat 2:30 p.m. at Buckhannon-Upshur High School. Tickets will be available at the door and are $10 for adults and $8 for seniors, students and children.



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