ALTON — Twenty-three years ago, Alton Little Theater staged a relatively new play called “Steel Magnolias,” which became an audience favorite and a huge hit movie.
Director Emeritus Diana Enloe decided it was time to “come back home” to kick off the 83rd season, and “Steel Magnolias” will once again grace the stage Sept. 16-25, with nine performances (an expanded run initiated for all productions in the new season).
The celebrated Southern classic about family and friendship is the story of a group of strong and beautiful women who cluster around Truvy’s Beauty Parlor in a small Louisiana parish. The story centers on Shelby, who moves from wedding to childbirth to medical complications with a love of life and a willingness to face its possibilities bravely with support from a steely Southern sisterhood.
“There may be no other contemporary play that better epitomizes the bond of female friendship than Robert Harling’s ‘Steel Magnolias,’” Enloe said.
Audiences are often surprised that the popular showcase for female actresses was written by a man, who was inspired by his own sister’s story. The cast includes Kathy Brendenkoetter (Clairee), Carolyn Florczyk (Annelle), Kim Hillman (Truvy), Carol Hodson (Ouiser), Christy Luster ( Shelby), and Debbie Maneke (M’Lynn). Hillman appeared in the ALT 1993 production as Annelle and is enjoying the homecoming to the hilt. Truvy’s “salon” has been lovingly constructed by Kevin Frakes, Lief Anderson and Randy Massey and the show will be greatly supported by ALT’s new production and technical director, Jay Harvey. Coming back to work at ALT is another homecoming for Jay, who will oversee all aspects of ALT’s new sound system and enhanced lighting functions.
Harvey, Frakes, Enloe, Gary Wilson and Lee Cox will direct the season’s additional productions and are working together to produce the Extra, Extra Entertainment Series of concerts and new productions. “Steel Magnolias” sets the tone with beloved classics and very touching and funny shows to be seen September through May at the ALT Showplace.
Season tickets are on sale for $80 during the run of “Steel Magnolias” and individual door sales can be obtained by calling (618) 462-3205 or altonlittletheater.org. The play’s cast will also take part in the Southern Charms Luncheon & Fashion Show encore at 11:30 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 24, in the Dorothy Colonius foyer. Tickets are available for $25.