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The Reflector

The Student Newspaper of Mississippi State University

The Reflector

Tougher than steel: community theater produces “Steel Magnolias”

Rachel Cannady | Courtesy Photo
Steel Magnolias

The Starkville Community Theatre prepares to treat Starkvillians to multiple presentations of the classic play, “Steel Magnolias.”  The play runs  Feb. 13-16 and 18-22.  

“Steel Magnolias” portrays six women and the dramatic events of their lives.  

Paula Mabry, Starkville Community Theatre director, said the play is set in a Louisiana cosmetologist’s boutique, which provides the site for the women’s spirited conversations. 

“The audience will see a lovely beauty shop where the ladies of this little Louisiana town come to visit and have their hair ‘done,’” she said. w“The six women in the play are longtime friends who share their good times and bad with one another.”

The beauty shop set works well for the play’s characters, Mabry said, as well as for the audience, as a place that provides familiarity.

“We can see that the womens’ beauty shop experience is very similar to other shops in other towns and places,” she said. “That’s probably one of the many reasons this show resonates so well.”  

“Steel Magnolias” relays a variety of emotions to the audience, from tears of sadness to tears of laughter and joy.

Callie Paxton, junior communication major and actress starring in the play, said the production mixes a wide range of  feelings effectively.

“The play is classic and unique because it blends tragedy and comedy,” Paxton said.  

The play offers different ways to connect with its characters for audience members of all ages.  

Johnni Sue Wijewardane, another actress starring in the play, said each attendee is sure to form a bond with an actress onstage. 

 “Each person in the audience can connect with at least one character,” she said.  

Wijewardane also said the play represents all events and walks of life, from marriage to death and all the moments that lie in between.

“One can find almost every emotion in this play — the joy that weddings and births bring, fear of illness, sadness and anger felt after the loss of a loved one and wit and humor,” she said. “I hope the audience will be able to feel the connection that each character has with the other characters as well as sense the real friendships that have been formed between the women who are playing the characters.”  

All the work the “Steel Magnolias” cast put into performance and all the shows the theater puts on stem from a deep passion for the performing arts.  The Starkville Community Theatre members support  live performances, which fill a different role than that of movies or television. The members offer live shows, which contain elements no other medium can capture. 

 Mabry said live theatre is not only entertaining, but live productions involve audience members in a deep way that stories on film cannot.

 “Live theatre is real. It’s in the moment,” Mabry said.  “Real people are playing out stories in front of an audience. There is nothing to compare to that.  There are no ‘retakes,’ no touch-ups as in film.”

Mabry said theatre has a long history that persists today, even amidst advances in digital technology. 

“Theatre has long been the avenue for playwrights to show the world what is really going on in the world,” she said. “Sometimes it is a touching love story and then again, it might be a mystery or a murder.  Seeing real people on stage performing makes that story come alive to an audience.”  

Starkville Community Theatre is passionate about the live arts which ensures an excellent show.  “Steel Magnolias” will captivate the audience with roles that are easy to connect with and emotions that vary greatly.

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Tougher than steel: community theater produces “Steel Magnolias”