It has been quite an experience playing Annelle. I have always enjoyed character roles more than straight roles, so this is right up my alley. I get to play three different characters in one. The other actresses in the cast have made it very easy to slide into this role. It’s always easier when you work with extremely talented actors. You’re able to give and receive so much more. This is also true about your director. We had the pleasure of having a great director. Kyle Barnette took time with each of us to develop our characters. He also spent a good amount of time unifying us as a cast. This show is only successful when the actresses are close. Kyle took six complete strangers and made us friends.
This show has been wonderful and it has been a joy to work with the cast and crew. I truly hope I get to do it again soon.
I have thoroughly enjoyed my experience working with Kyle Barnette and the cast and crew of Steel Magnolias. It is remarkable to see how the show has come together despite last minute changes which could have been disastrous. However, when one is working with “troupers”, there is nothing to worry about. This is truly an ensemble cast made up of wonderful actors and also brave people who joined us very late in the process.
Ouiser is a very terrific role for me. It’s fun playing this cantankerous “old” lady who is really a good and generous person, at heart! I am happy that I was chosen for the role. (I don’t like thinking of myself as old, despite the fact that I have grown children!!! I remember the days when I was the youngest person in the cast!!!)
Creating the hairdos in Steel Magnolias Our Steel Magnolia actresses had the help of Hailey Nagel who taught the actors how to fix their hair in a late 80’s style as well as giving Truvy and Annelle a crash course in beautician science. Michael Varnadore and the staff at Stuart Laurence Salon spent hours making sure the hair colors matched the wig pieces used, as well as provided styling. Only her hairdresser knows for sure which Magnolia’s hair had a make-over and whose hair is natural. The ladies know, but mum’s the word.
Also special thanks to the Stuart Lawrence and Bellezza Salons for use of two styling chairs.
It has often been analogized that a person’s hairdresser is one’s own personal psychologist, someone you can share just about any intimate detail about your life with, say whatever you need to get out and leave it right there in the secured privacy of your styling chair. The role of hairstylists is more than just about giving your hair a ‘lick and a promise’. It is a fully unique and multi-faceted role — part friend, part parent, part confessor, part adviser and so much more. Robert Harling uses the familiarity and comfort of a mom and pop beauty shop as a device to reflect the love, anger, frustration, and the friendship ties that bind of six wholly unique and completely real southern women in his modern southern masterpiece Steel Magnolias. These women use Truvy’s beauty shop as not only a place to get their hair done, but as a homebase, a place for solace from the outside world. Whenever there is a pressing issue, when comfort and reassurance is needed the ladies head over to the shop, seeking refuge, advice, or just a place to relax and not worry about anything else, whether they actually need their hair done or not.
Growing up in the south in the late 1980’s and going to college in the deep south of Mississippi, I had my own personal experiences with small town beauty parlors having two aunts owning and running their own southern styling sanctuaries. I often accompanied my mother as she would go to ‘visit with’ my aunts Jeannie or Sandra, getting her hair done, chatting about crazy relatives and neighbors or telling things I knew weren’t about to leave that room. There was always a pot of coffee brewing, some sort of sweets sitting around in a dish, music filling the air, and the smell of perms and aqua net filtering through the air ducts. Elements that seemed to put customers in a trance, a truth serum if you will, allowing them to become their true selves for a couple of hours a week.
The women of Chinquapin Parish, Louisiana are real southern women, struggling with real issues of love and marriage, insecurity, grief and loneliness. They are also women we all know in one way or another. We’ve met them before out there at a family reunion, fish fry, wedding reception or even at your own local beauty boutique. When you come to the theatre you may be sitting next to one of them, pointing at your friend saying “That is so you!”. And that is the idea with this production of Steel Magnolias. That sense of comfort, familiarity and friendship that is universal, an experience where you can say, “I’ve been to that salon. I know these people.”