Bellevue Society for the Arts will be presenting audiences with its best southern hospitality during its performance of Steel Magnolias. The play is actually author Robert Harling’s way of coming to terms with the death of his own sister.
“It’s very funny and the audience will spend a good amount of time laughing and be moved at the same time,” says Jennifer Gilbert, who has the role of Shelby (the character based on Harling’s sister). Gilbert wanted the role of Shelby but would’ve taken any part to be part of this show.
WANT TO GO?
•WHAT: Steel Magnolias
•WHEN: February 28, March 1 at 7:30 p.m.
•WHERE: Bellevue Society for the Arts, 205 Maple Street, Bellevue; Reservations line: 419-484-ARTS (2787).
•COST: $12.00 adults 18 years and over; $8.00 seniors 60 and over and students K-12
Steel Magnolias has an all female cast, ranging in age from 16 to mid 40s, a blend of generations. There was no specific motivation of the BSA in producing a script with an entire female cast other than the quality of the script itself. Another woman, Monica Siesel, is the director and Gilbert believes having a woman in that role made a difference with the little aspects of femininity that a male director might not have grasped.
Some fun research the women were privy to was that one of the hair salon sponsors of this production gave them up do hair lessons since they would literally be working on each other’s hair while performing onstage. It’s set in the south in the 80s so expect lots of fun southern accents and some high hair.
Gilbert says, “It’s very funny but incredibly moving and very, very emotional in a couple different scenes.” Even though she is offstage at one point Gilbert had some trouble watching a scene she was no longer a part of. “Teri Sizemore plays my mother and seems to be pulling inspiration from the fact that “Jeni’s” not on stage any more and transferring it to ‘I lost my daughter’ making it very real,” says Gilbert. During this production the actresses have turned into one big happy family.
According to the author, the title Steel Magnolias represents that the “female characters are as delicate as magnolias but as tough as steel.”