Meridian Star

January 6, 2013

MLT looking for ‘Steel Magnolias’

Special to The Star
The Meridian Star

MERIDIAN —

    The Meridian Little Theatre has scheduled auditions for the off Broadway and screen hit “Steel Magnolias,” for Monday and Tuesday, Jan. 7-8, at 7 p.m. at the Highway 39 Playhouse.

    There are roles for six women in the high comedy and dark drama rolled up in a small town Southern beauty shop, which was Louisiana native Robert Harling’s first play.

    The “Steel Magnolias” are six strong women of Chinquapin, La., who face life with humor and compassion. The action takes place entirely in the beauty shop and the six women are the only characters.

    Set in the present, the storyline follows Shelby, “the prettiest girl in town.” The play, which spans two and a-half years, begins on her wedding day as she prepares to marry a “good ole boy.” In her mid-20s, she is warm, generous and spunky.

    The beauty shop, where everybody who is “anybody” has their hair done, is owned by Truvy, a tough and outspoken beautician. Her motto is “There’s no such thing as natural beauty.” Truvy, warm, capable, and solid, anchors the shop and the play. The author suggests that she be 40ish.

    Her eager new assistant, Annelle, a sweet, mixed up newcomer to Chinquapin, isn’t sure if she’s married or not. Her husband has just run away with the car, her belongings, and her money, and may be selling drugs. Although she is in trouble, she is anxious to do her job well. “I swear to you my personal tragedy won’t interfere in any way with my doing hair!” Annelle is suggested to be in her 20s.

    Shelby’s mother, career women M’Lynn, is the local society leader. She is married to a rich, down-to-earth man who believes that “an ounce of pretension to be worth a pound of manure.” M’Lynn is dedicated to her husband and to her daughter and two sons. Caught up in her daughter’s life, she shares Shelby’s joys and sorrows. The author suggest that M’Lynn be 50ish.

    Grand dame Clairee, widow of the former mayor, is lonely but making the best of her situation. She is graciously mischievous. When told of another woman’s romance, she says that instead of “playing hard to get, at her age she should be playing ‘Beat the Clock.’” The character Clairee is in her 60s.

    Ouiser, the town’s rich curmudgeon, has been married twice, both times unhappily, and has turned sour. (“I’m not crazy; I’ve just been in a bad mood for 40 years.”) Ouiser is suggested to be 60ish.

    Although ages are suggested by the author, Director Jimmy Pigford states that these may be changed somewhat. The casting committee will make changes, if needed, after hearing the readings at auditions and seeing who fits well with the other characters.

    “Steel Magnolias” will be presented Feb. 21-27 at Meridian Little Theatre. Everyone interested is invited to attend auditions. Those interested in working back-stage should sign up at that time also.