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'Steel Magnolias' returns to stage

Production runs through March 24

POSTED: February 19, 2013 12:29 a.m.
Autumn Vetter/

Karen Walsh, left, and Cameron Morton rehearse Tuesday for “Steel Magnolias” at the Cumming Playhouse.

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The story of six strong Southern women has returned to the Cumming Playhouse.

Gypsy Theatre Company began its five-week run of “Steel Magnolias” this past Thursday.

The show’s director, who just goes by Mercury, said this is the second time the company has presented the story, set inside the walls of a Louisiana beauty shop.

The first presentation was about four years ago, he said, and two of those six cast members have reclaimed their roles.

“We do have some returning cast members to this production, but we also have new members and every actor brings new life to their roles,” he said.

Despite being a fan-favorite show, the director said there’s always something new.

“As far as being different and new this time around, every production is always different, even from night to night of the same production, because it is live theater and that’s the thing we love.”

Mercury said many people will likely be familiar with the play’s 1989 film version, which starred Dolly Parton, Shirley MacLaine, Olympia Dukakis, Sally Field, Julia Roberts and Daryl Hannah.

“The script is very similar because it was originally a play and then they turned it into a movie,” he said. “They’ll definitely recognize [the storylines].”

Jan Grimshaw reclaims the role of M’Lynn, played by Sally Field in the film. She said the main difference audiences will likely notice in the versions are the number of characters and settings.

“It’s very interesting in that in the play everything happens in the beauty shop,” she said. “There are no scene changes, there are no men in [the play], you don’t see the husbands or the boyfriends.

“It’s a very intimate space in the beauty shop, so it’s their life stories that they share, and it’s just a beautiful story.”

As for portraying M’Lynn again, Grimshaw said the character is “one of the best roles out there.”

“She’s so much fun. I get to make people laugh and I get to touch their hearts and maybe get a tear or two,” she said. “It’s just so rewarding.”

Grimshaw said it has been especially rewarding this time, citing stellar castmates.

“I think it’s the best cast yet, I really do,” she said.

She’s been impressed with Cameron Morton’s portrayal of M’Lynn’s daughter, Shelby, who was played by Julia Roberts in the movie.

“She and I just had a great rapport almost instantly, and she’s so much fun to play off of,” Grimshaw said.

As for Morton, a 17-year-old senior at Alpharetta High School, she’s also having a great time being part of the cast.

“This is the last community theater show I’ll do before I go off to college, so this has been amazing,” she said.

“A lot of the ladies have done the show before, so coming in I was pretty intimidated, but they have all been so nice and they’re so professional.

“It’s so easy to work with them because it feels like a big family.”

Morton said the show has much to offer audiences.

“There are lots of laughs in it and it’s a good story of friendship in general,” she said. “It stands up for all ages, from kids in high school to ladies in their 70s. There really is something for everybody.”

 

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