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OWENSBORO, Ky. (10/13/13) – The newest in a series of classic performances honoring Theatre Workshop of Owensboro’s 50th anniversary kicks off this weekend.

“Steel Magnolias,” the 1980’s tale of five women who converge at a hairdresser’s shop throughout the entire play, initially wasn’t something Wes Bartlett was interested in directing.

“I’ve never seen the movie,” Bartlett said at the cast’s dress rehearsal Monday night. “I never thought I would be able to relate to it.”

Bartlett said that at first, he felt the characters were “portrayed very stereotypically,” but after a second reading of the script decided it was a story he wanted to present. He said what appealed to him the most was the subplot about one of the character’s, Shelby, battle with diabetes and the complications it presented when she decided to have a baby. He said the other characters grew on him as he read the script the second time.

“The older characters in the play have the funniest lines,” he said.

As time passed, Bartlett said he came to appreciate the overall story.

“This is a story about women going through hard life changes,” he said. “Claire is coming to terms with the death of her husband. It’s a comedy with very poignant moments.”

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The set for the show wasn’t easy to build, and with the help of volunteers took about a week to arrange. One of the most unique aspects of this particular stage is that it requires running water and actual hair styling during a few of the scenes.

“From a technical standpoint, this is a very demanding play,” Bartlett said, noting the requirements to build the stage as a complete 1980’s stylist shop.

Patricia Lindsey, a local hairdresser, provided training for the actors on proper hairdressing, and as Bartlett put it, “helped to ‘dress the set.’”

“Steel Magnolias” opens this weekend with a dinner theatre on Thursday, followed by regular performances Friday and Saturday night each weekend through Nov. 2. A final Sunday matinee show will be held on Nov. 3.

Cast members include Kristin Whitney as Truvy (the hairdresser); Ronda Rodgers as Claire; Mary-Katherine Maddox as Annelle; Anne Welsh as M’Lynn; Alexandria Hendrick as Shelby; and Janie Robinson as Ouiser. The cast and crew have been working since the middle of August to prepare for the upcoming performances.

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For tickets, or for more information, visit theatreworkshop.org.

Dennis Beard
SurfKY News
Photos provided by Dennis Beard

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Posted on 2/2/14

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