TORRINGTON – Grab a friend and a box of tissues, Goshen Community Theatre’s interpretation of “Steel Magnolias” opens Thursday, March 21 at the Eastern Wyoming College Fine Arts Auditorium.
The all-female play takes place in a beauty salon in Louisiana, where a group of women bond and experience life together. The original play came out in 1987, followed by the well-known film adaptation in 1989.
“It really runs the gamut from extremely funny to tragically sad,” Diona Savoy-McDaniels, or Clairee Belcher: former town first lady, said of the play. Savoy-McDaniels has participated in theatre for 50 years, 15 of which have been with GCT. “You might shed a tear, but you’ll leave with a smile on your face.”
Fellow theatre veteran Teresa Bloodgood, playing M’Lynn Eatenton, has participated in around 10 GCT productions and said the movie version of “Steel Magnolias” was a “must-see” in her family.
“I know each one of the characters – I think I could’ve played them all, except for maybe Annelle. I love them all,” she said. I have not had any trouble understanding this character at all. I have two daughters who are the age of this person who dies. It strikes close to home.”
Lacy Gonzalez, or Shelby Eatenton-Latcherie, is new to theatre, and agreed the play is personal.
“The relationship I have with my mama in the play is really gut-wrenching, because I did lose my mom,” she said. “The biggest reason I did want to do this play is ‘Steel Magnolias’ is something we shared – we watched it when I was a kid.
“It’s been so much fun,” Gonzalez added. “The friends I’ve made … these ladies are incredible.”
Other cast members include Madison Bloodgood as Annelle Dupuy-DeSoto; Marci Shaver as Truvy Jones; and Torry Wilson as Ouiser Boudreaux.
Director Carolyn McBurney may be relatively new to the area – having moved to Goshen County last year – but she is no stranger to the theatre scene.
“I have a … degree in theatre and have been working in it off and on for 50 years,” she said. “I have been involved in the start-up of three theatres and worked a lot recently with new works. I loved working with children’s theatre in marketing and directing as well. GCT is comparable to other community theatres I have had the privilege of working with – they each have their unique qualities. The level of talent available here in Torrington has impressed me since moving here.”
McBurney said the GCT board chose “Steel Magnolias” for its spring production based on the play’s popularity and all-women cast, as there are typically fewer male actors who audition locally.
“I am appreciative of the opportunity to get to direct the show and am excited for people to come out and support this cast of hard-working actresses,” McBurney said. “Oh, and by the way, the entire stage crew is female, as well.”
In addition, McBurney has included the EWC Cosmetology Department, community members, and area businesses in the event for a bit of added flair.
“Since we perform at EWC and they have such a strong cosmetology department, I thought it made perfect sense (to include them in the production),” she said. “Christine Chesser has been great to work with – designing ‘80’s hair and makeup. We are also fortunate to have a professional hair stylist in the cast. (Gonzalez) plays Shelby and works at The Class Act. She is doing a fabulous job and helps us with any logistical questions that arise in rehearsal.
“We are also partnering with some of the shops in town who are offering two-for-one vouchers with a haircut. The Class Act, Salon 21 and Turning Heads are all participating at this point,” McBurney added.
Rehearsals began in January, and the culmination of countless of hours of work and a true community effort will hit the stage this Thursday, March 21, at 7 p.m. with a reception to follow featuring The Bread Doctor. Other show times include: March 22, 23, 28, 29 at 7 p.m.; and 2 p.m. matinées March 24 and 30.
On Friday, March 22, all seats are $5 at the door.
“This is a very special story about the strength of women and their relationships,” McBurney said. “The movie was very popular – this is its 30th anniversary – and rightly so, but the stage play is different in a lot of ways. It will have you laughing through tears. I hope that we get groups to come out and see it. It would be a great ladies’ night out.”