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There’s nothing quite like the experience of a southern beauty shop — pretty women, lots of gossip, and enough aerosol to make your head spin.

And in this spring’s production of “Steel Magnolias” at Richmond Community Theater, you’ll get that experience, and so much more.

The play, written by Robert Harling, gained international attention when it was made into a movie starring Julia Roberts, Dolly Parton and Sally Field, but Richmond Community Theater’s Director Mark Colbenson said there’s a lot more depth and creativity in the play.

“I think people can expect to see a little different (and much better) show than the movie,” Colbenson said. ”I’m not a fan of the movie as they always try to do too much, and that movie is a perfect example of that. There are no men in this show, and all the action takes place in the beauty shop. For those who’ve never seen the stage play, it’s much tighter and much more focused than the movie.  It doesn’t deal with all the silly extraneous scenes the movie has. It focuses on these six women, the depth of their friendship and the strength and joy they get from one another.”

The show stars Lindsay Melton as Truvy, Amanda Perry as Annelle, Trish McGee as M’Lynn, Ellen Geanes as Shelby, Frances Thomas as Clairee and Miki Deese as Ouiser. The stage manager is Robert Watkins.

(Photo by Jimmy McDonald)

With six women together on stage, things are bound to be pretty interesting.

“Having done it twice before, I’ve learned first hand that if you have six who get along well, it’s a blast.  If you have 6 that don’t…it’s a nightmare,” Colbenson said.  “So far, this cast seems to be enjoying each other and having a lot of fun, so that’s great.”

“The rehearsal process has been pretty good,” Colbenson added. “The actresses are working hard and having fun. A little panic is setting in as they realize they are down to eight rehearsals before we open …but that’s a good thing, helps spur them on.”

This Colbenson’s third time directing the show, and though it’s a different cast, he said it’s not been that different of an experience.

“It’s nice to have REAL southern accents for once,” Colbenson said. ”It makes it much more consistent. But the roles are the roles, so not a lot of changes. It’s fun to see how different people bring different perspectives to the characters. As a director you have one vision of these roles and it’s interesting to see how other people view these roles. Part of that is the fact that the movie is out there, and you have to get past the idea that “I’m gonna be Dolly Parton”, or “I’m gonna be Sally Fields.” It’s always a fun process to get them to understand they need to bring their own version of these characters to the table.”

The show runs about two hours, and with a short intermission, the total time will be about two hours and 20 minutes. Show dates are April 8-18. Thursday, Friday and Saturdays, the play opens at 8 p.m. Sunday matinees are at 2 p.m. Tickets are $9 and the box office opens April 5 for reservations. Box office hours are Monday-Saturday, 12:30-5 p.m. for the two weeks of the show.

To reserve your tickets, call 910-997-3765. Tickets can also be purchased at the box office about one hour before show time.

5 Responses to ““Steel Magnolias” Opens in Rockingham April 8”

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