(Posted March 29, 2022)
By Kristy Zurbrick, Madison Editor
“It’s about having each other’s back through it all.”
“When Emily LeGault, our stage manager, said that, I thought it was the perfect description of what this play means,” said Katie Manns, Madison-Plains art teacher for grades 7-12 and director of the school’s upcoming production of “Steel Magnolias.”
Originally a play by Robert Harling, the story was turned into a movie in 1989 starring Dolly Parton, Sally Field, Shirley MacLaine, Daryl Hannah, Olympia Dukakis and Julia Roberts.
“I’m a huge fan of the movie. I knew I wanted a play that showed the importance of being there for each other,” Manns said. “Everybody has been through a lot the last couple of years. What better play to show the true meaning of friendship and family than ‘Steel Magnolias.’”
The entire play takes place inside Truvy Jones’s beauty salon. Truvy, played by junior Hannah Geyer, is a friendly go-getter who serves as the glue of the group. She has taken Annelle (eighth-grader Maggie Wethington), a shy beauty school graduate, under her wing.
Shelby (sophomore Josiah Baker) and her mother, M’Lynn (junior Molly Fahy), visit the salon to have their hair done. Shelby is getting married and trying to live her best life despite her medical condition. M’Lynn is an all-around protective mamma bear.
Providing comic relief, especially when they are together, are the cheerful Clairee (freshman Holly Schiering) and the sarcastic Ousier (senior Andrew Geyer).
“Andrew is the only male in the show, and he plays a woman,” Manns said. “I’m super proud of him for taking on this role. It has definitely been a stretch for him, but I think he is going to take all the laughs. Every time he is on stage, I find myself and everyone else laughing.”
The entire cast has taken well to the material, Manns said, especially considering most of the six have never seen the movie.
“So, they went into it with fresh eyes. They’ve really developed the characters for themselves. I like that–no preconceived notions. They’re really enjoying themselves. They’ve been a great cast to work with,” she said.
Manns is excited not only about this show in particular, but about the potential for the school’s theater department in general. She graduated from Madison-Plains in 2006. As a student, she realized she wanted to be a theater major after performing in one of the school’s stage productions. She went on to triple major in art education, studio art, and theater at Wilmington College, then taught and directed at West Jefferson and schools in Yellow Springs and Indiana. This is her first year teaching at Madison-Plains.
“It’s neat that it’s come back full circle,” she said. “I have big plans for the future for the Madison-Plains theater department, and I hope the community can be a part of it. This place means a lot to me.”
Manns opened auditions for “Steel Magnolias” to the junior high as a way to spread awareness and build excitement about the theater department. In addition to Wethington landing one of the roles, several junior high students are working on the crew.
“Next year, we hope to have a bigger cast and maybe start doing musicals again,” Manns said.
She thanked the school district’s administrators and staff, as well as people from the community, for stepping up to help with this year’s show.
“I can’t say thank you enough.”
Show times for “Steel Magnolias” are April 8-9 at 7 p.m. and April 10 at 2 p.m. Doors open 30 minutes before each show. Tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for students. Tickets may be purchased at the door, by scanning the QR code on promotional posters around town, or by visiting Steel Magnolias Tickets.