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Playhouse serves up a classic
'Steel Magnolias' opens Thursday
Steel Mags 7 es
Danielle Bugany, production manager, and Mercury, director, watch the play practice. - photo by Emily Saunders

If you’re going

• What: “Steel Magnolias”
• When: 8 p.m. every Thursday through Saturday from Jan. 29-Feb. 22; 3 p.m. on Sundays
• Where: Cumming Playhouse
• Tickets: $20
• Contact: (770) 781-9178 or go online at

For its Cumming Playhouse debut, Gypsy Theatre is pulling out all the emotional stops with a production of “Steel Magnolias.”

The show’s six sweet, sassy, smart, stubborn and strong Southern women offer something for everyone, said its director and Gypsy co-owner who goes only by the name Mercury.

“Since this play is set in a South, I think there’s a strong appeal for audiences ... because it’s an American slice of pie,” Mercury said. “Many of us are familiar with this show and it’s a wonderful story that a lot of us enjoy.”

The story follows the struggles and joys of a close group of women, showing that friendships forged at a beauty parlor can endure through births, weddings, funerals and daily life.

Mercury said the production is a mix of laughs and tears, highlighting the talent that can be expected from the year-old production company in the future.

“This community of ladies, who are family even through most of them are just friends, deals with these situations and it just shows how they support each other very well,” he said. “It gives a good representation of a lot of our lives and how we deal with the good and the bad times.”

Jan Grimshaw plays the role of M’Lynn Eatenton. Her character is typically calm and demure, so it took some help from Mercury to reach a level of believable anger.

“I was always told to be a good girl, be nice, don’t get upset and don’t yell at people,” said Grimshaw, a Cumming resident. “And I’ve had to let go of that constraint in order to express anger. Mercury was wonderful and he really helped me.”

One part of the production that hasn’t been difficult, Grimshaw said, is acting as though her fellow cast members are friends. Though they’ve only been rehearsing together for a couple of months, she said the women have a close connection.

“These are wonderful women. I am having so much fun,” she said. “We really have developed a bond and I feel like we really are all sitting in the beauty shop getting our hair done and we’ve been doing it for years.”

While audiences might be familiar with the 1989 movie, “Steel Magnolias” was first written as a play. While the movie introduces a variety of settings and an ensemble cast, including the husbands and fathers of the six women, the play is restricted to just the women in a few settings.

Some voices come from offstage and events are only discussed, but the simpler version allows for more focus on the women.

“The relationships are predominantly about the women,” Mercury said. “The actors really bring their characters to life. This is a collaborative effort.”

Grimshaw said the story is what drew her to audition for the production.

“It’s such a beautiful story,” she said. “It’s got humor, it’s got friendship, it’s got smart-aleck remarks, it’s got laughter, it’s got tears and the community of these women is just so special.”

E-mail Jennifer Sami at