Steel Magnolias is the quintessential story of friendship, trust and the heartache of death, all served up Southern style.
The Little Theatre will present the beloved drama starting Feb. 10 in its vintage red barn theater at 1130 Sumach St., Walla Walla.
The story was a smash on Broadway when it premiered in the mid-1980s. It became an even bigger hit once the movie came out in 1989 starring Sally Field, Dolly Parton, Shirley MacLaine, Olympia Dukakis, Daryl Hannah and a newcomer to the acting game, Julia Roberts.
The banter between a group of gossipy Southern dames who meet weekly at a beauty parlor jumps from funny to heart-wrenching throughout the story.
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Unlike the film that also starred Tom Skerritt and a few other guys, and jumped from set to set, the entire play takes place in Truvy's beauty parlor.
The salon is run by Truvy, played by Shauna Lilly Bogley. Her clients include M'lynn played by Kay Fenimore-Smith, Quiser played by Terri Trick, Clairee played by Pam Murray, Annelle played by Sydney Boyd and Shelby played by Molly McKinney.
The New York Daily News once described the story as "a play that builds to a conclusion that is deeply moving," while the New York Post called it, "suffused with humor and tinged with tragedy."
The director of The Little Theatre's production, Carol Anselmo, agrees with both descriptions of Steel Magnolias.
"As the title suggests," Anselmo said, "these six women can be as delicate as magnolias but are as tough as steel."
The theater troupe got a little technical assistance from Walla Walla salon owner Jan Corn. She loaned stylists to the production to help with hair. The Walla Walla Community College's cosmetology department also assisted.
"Something else of special interest is our backdrop," Anselmo said. It was created by Leslie Williams Cain, a well-known Northwest landscape artist and muralist who painted the backdrop for the show.
"The set is comprised of the beauty shop with a large window and a door that opens from the back wall, allowing the audience an opportunity to see a portion of the backdrop," she added.
"Regardless of our gender, if we are lucky, we find a special place like Truvy's beauty shop, where we truly belong. A place where our feelings are respected and we feel secure in showing them," she said.
And as Anselmo quotes the playwright, Robert Harling: "Steel Magnolias is about people living life and getting through it."
Curtain time is 8 p.m. Feb. 10-11, 17-18 and 24-25 with a 2 p.m. matinee Feb. 19. Admission is $14 adults, $10 ages 13 and younger. Tickets are available at www.ltww.org or at the door.