CHADRON—As the name of the production indicates, the women who are the focal point of “Steel Magnolias,” have an inner strength that belies their outer femininity. Roger Mays, theatre professor and director, said the Chadron State College student cast is doing an excellent job of portraying the charm, vivacity, and maturity of the female leads.
The play will be in Memorial Hall’s Black Box Theatre Thursday, April 19, through Saturday, April 21, at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, April 22, at 2 p.m. Tickets are free for CSC students, faculty and staff. Call 308-432-6207 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for tickets.
The cast includes Jennaya Hill of Gordon, Neb., as Truvy, Courtney Smith of Hampton, Neb., as Truvy’s apprentice, Annelle, Taylor Thies of Rapid City, S.D., as the widow of the town’s former mayor Clairee, Kaitlynn Hessler of Mitchell, Neb. as Shelby, Mickenzi Loyd of Big Piney, Wyo., as Shelby’s mother M’Lynn, and Shanie Hollenbeck of Estelline, S.D., as Ouiser, an elderly outspoken eccentric.
The play, written by Robert Harling, was inspired by his sister, Susan, who died of complications from diabetes. Julia Roberts played her role in the character of Shelby in the 1989 film featuring Oscar winners Sally Field, Shirley MacLaine and Olympia Dukakis. The play provides a glimpse into the lives of these neighbors, friends and family members who frequent Truvy’s hair salon, set in Chinquapin, Louisiana.
“For those who know the film, they’ll recall that one of the major attractions of ‘Steel Magnolias’ is how these women get each other through life’s laughter and tears. Our cast, too, has become a very close- knit ensemble and it shows both on and off stage. I have no doubt that our audiences will love this beautifully written play,” Mays said.
Mays said he is also especially proud of the students designing the set, the lighting, and props.
“These opportunities don’t typically exist in many undergraduate programs, and we are pleased our students get to tackle major projects and strive to live up to the high production standards that are necessary for success at the next level,” Mays said.
Mays turned to local hair stylist Judy Goff, owner and operator of Hairpin Corner, for consultation regarding hair styling in the show. She had cut and styled a wig and made a mustache for Mays in 2014 when he portrayed Mark Twain in “Big River.”
"I knew we would need an expert to help create the illusion of a beauty shop and train the two beauticians in lead roles," Mays said. “Judy is styling all of our wigs, giving the girls their haircuts for the show, as well as training them how to prepare Shelby’s wedding hairdo. Thanks to her assistance, the cast members are able to put up hair and perform at the same time.”
Goff worked with Nathan Wojciechowski, who is earning a three credit hour internship managing the makeup and hair for the production.
Wojciechowski said Goff has been helpful suggesting hairstyles and providing wigs.
“She’s amazing. Some of our wigs are worn out, so she loaned us some that are much better quality,” Wojciechowski said.
Goff accessed wigs from the Chadron Community Hospital for the production.
“I stored nearly 500 wigs for the American Cancer Society in the Panhandle for years until the new hospital was completed and then they took over. They were gracious enough to let me borrow some of those wigs on behalf of the college,” Goff said.
In addition, Goff loaned set dressing items and props to help the crew transform the Black Box Theatre into a hair salon. Mays said the Cut Hut also loaned props to the crew.
“It has been an absolutely wonderful experience working with the theatre group. I’m glad they asked me to help,” Goff said.
—Tena L. Cook, Marketing Coordinator