MCT presents ‘Steel Magnolias’

Home may be where the heart is but the beauty shop is where friendship, advice and the courage to brave life’s emotional transitions lie. Or so it seems in the play “Steel Magnolias” written by Robert Harling.

This play was first introduced on Broadway in 1987 and was written by the playwright as a testament to his beloved sister who died from complications of diabetes. It later became the movie of the same name that many know and love. Marshalltown Community Theatre director Peggy Schoer has taken this well-known play, set in a 1980s beauty salon, and together with an all female cast brings to the community a show that balances comedic and tragic themes.

The play is set in Truvy’s (Diane Pappas) beauty salon in Chinquapin, Louisiana. All the ladies who are “anybody” come to have their hair done at Truvy’s. Outspoken, wise-cracking Truvy and eager new assistant, who isn’t sure she is married, Annelle (Danica Matthews) dispense shampoos and free advice to the town’s rich curmudgeon Ouiser (Brenda Morris), eccentric millionaire Miss Clairee (Julie Kruse-Brewer), and local social leader M’Lynn (Brenda Jensen). M’Lynn’s daughter Shelby (Missy Hall) is about to marry.

Though Shelby is diabetic she is determined to have a baby even if her life will be at risk. The main story centers on M’Lynn and Shelby but the underlying group friendship among the women is prominent. We gain the sense of how powerful bonds of friendship can help us overcome even the most difficult of challenges.

As the audience we are entertained by the sass, sincerity and strength of those bonds. Schoer agrees with the sentiment that as a part of a group we can all benefit and overcome challenges.

“I think people would be amazed to know that this is a totally volunteer show that provides a high level of professional theatre to the community from props, sets, lighting, sound, advertising and costumes as well as acting,” she said.

Schoer is a 30 year veteran of MCT lending a hand from props, marketing and set construction to acting and directing. When this show was chosen by the audience as a fan favorite Schoer was happy to step up as director as she had participated when it had been done in a readers theatre format. She was in full agreement with keeping the original setting of the play in the deep south of the 1980s.

“The actors will be enhanced with microphones so our audience should have no problems understanding the southern accents,” Schoer said.

There are many comedic moments to give everyone a sense of the southern sense of humor.

“Veteran of our stage Barb Ryner has been invaluable as my assistant for this show in providing her experience with her good sense of comedic timing,” Schoer said.

The dramatic elements of the show are very dear and personal to Schoer as she has family members with diabetes and will provide pamphlets of information for audience members available during intermission.

Performances will be at the Martha Ellen Tye Playhouse, Fisher Community Center. Performance dates are Friday and Saturday at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. Also a 7:30 p.m. performance will be on both May 3 and May 4.

Box office hours are noon to 2 p.m. Monday through Saturday and one hour before performances. For more information or to reserve seats call 641-752-4164.