OBU Theatre Presents Steel Magnolias

Steel Magnolias, which follows the lives of six spirited Southern women, will be OBU Theatre’s first major production of the 2005-06 season. The acclaimed play will be presented in Oklahoma Baptist University’s Craig-Dorland Theatre Oct. 6-8 and 14-15 at 7:30 p.m. and Oct. 16 at 2:30 p.m.

Written by Robert Harling, Steel Magnolias chronicles the women’s personal triumphs, tragedies, beauty tips and scandalous gossip. Dr. Joyce Spivey Aldridge, OBU assistant professor of theater, plays Truvy Jones, the wise-cracking beauty shop owner.

With the help of her new “glamour technician” Annelle Dupuy-Desoto, played by Brittany Shantel, a sophomore theatre major from Fort Worth, Texas, Truvy dispenses shampoo with liberal doses of free advice and chitchat. Her audience includes the town’s curmudgeon Ouiser Boudreaux, played by Fiona Rene Oldham, a sophomore theatre and philosophy major from Austin, Texas; an eccentric millionaire, Clairee Belcher, played by Anita Trout, a teacher at Liberty Academy in Shawnee, Okla., and the local town social worker, M’Lynn Eatenton, played by Lee Matthews, a senior theatre major from New Braunfels, Texas. Eatenton’s daughter Shelby is played by Kate Rutledge, a freshman theatre major from Dallas, Texas.

Harling said he was inspired to write Steel Magnolias while coping with the death of his sister, Susan, who died from complications from diabetes. Harling wrote Steel Magnolias in 10 days, using his mother and her friends as inspiration. His goal was to tell about a specific time in his life.

Steel Magnolias first opened at the WPA Theatre in the 1986 New York Off-Broadway season. Shortly thereafter, before the play was even out of previews, Harling was approached by companies wanting to produce a movie version of the play. The show experienced a Broadway revival in 2005, which played 23 previews and 136 performances before closing on July 31, 2005, with plans for a tour during the 2006-07 season.

Harling’s other projects include the screen-plays for The First Wives Club, Soapdish and the upcoming movie version of the television show Dallas.

Laura S. Byland, assistant professor and director of theatre, directs the OBU production.

To purchase tickets, contact the OBU box office at 405-878-2347. The office is open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. until 4:30 p.m., in Sarkeys Telecommunications Center. Tickets are $7 for adults and $5 for children. Season passes are available until Oct. 16 and are $25 for adults.

Other OBU theatre productions slated for this school year are The Complete Works of William Shakespeare Abridged in November, The BFG in February, and The Fantasticks in April.