Beginning Sept. 23 and running through Oct. 9, the stage at the Gilbert Theater will transform into northwester Louisiana for a production of Steel Magnolias. The hardship and triumphs of six women are on display here as they live their lives in small town southern America. “I think this story is 100 percent about women. STEEL Magnolias. Strong women who suffer and come through the other side of things by walking THROUGH the pain, “ artistic director Robyne Parrish explained.
For many, this is a familiar story. It made its stage debut in 1987 and was later adapted into a movie in 1989. For any other theater these previous performances may be intimidating. The Gilbert Theater excels in creating unique and fresh interpretations of classic stories.
“It is certainly iconic and is attached to an award winning movie with major actresses at the helm. The actresses must make the work their own and we hope to bring something new to the production,” Parrish says, “The play takes place in Truvy’s salon. There is only one set. There are also no male characters in the show. The script remains fairly intact. People familiar with the film and not the play will recognize many, many lines. “
The success of this story in many ways lies in its often-painful realism. The problems that these characters face are not fantastical, they are real and the characters are powerfully relatable. Because these characters are so relatable as people the gendered aspect of the show does not serve as a limitation. Male and female audiences can connect to the story. “I just played M’Lynn at Theatre Raleigh this summer and so I relate the most to M’Lynn. But I think I can identify with almost every character in the show and I think our audiences will too — both male and female,” Parrish said.
While the cast and the focus of the show is entirely on women, the story here is really universal. This is a show about humanity and about over coming adversity. Everyone faces challenges. “Bring the whole family. And all the guys. This is a brilliant script and a wonderful story of family, love and loss. Everyone can get something amazing out of it,” Parrish said. “Our cast is brilliant and we know the whole community will enjoy what they have to offer!” Tickets can be purchased and more information can be found at www.gilberttheater.com.
Just as Steel Magnolias focused on transitions, this season is also a transition for the Gilbert Theater. This season is the final season for the Parrish as the Gilbert Theater’s artistic director.
“I am excited about this season. it is an incredible line - up. Of course I will be leaving midway through and Matthew Overturf will be taking over as Artistic Director with Meghann Redding coming on as Executive Director. I just know my final season is going to be a wonderful one and I am so excited about the team that will be taking over after my departure in February,” she says.