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‘Steel Magnolias’ Steals Hearts On Stage

Based on the family drama and comedy “Steel Magnolias,” which aired in 1989, SOCSA’s own “Steel Magnolias” took the stage Oct. 24-26 in the Porthole Theater. Brought together by optimist Truvy Jones’ (Audrey Parker) hair salon, the neighborhood women of a northwestern Louisiana town bond over hairstyles and manicures in the midst of life’s highs and lows. 

The play begins on the morning of Shelby Eatenton’s (Natalie Creech) wedding, as she and her mother M’Lynn Eatenton (Kendall Santos) prepare for the big day. From first fainting during her hair appointment to the conclusion of the play, Shelby struggles with type one diabetes. Despite their differing backgrounds and personalities, Truvy’s pessimistic neighbor Ouiser Boudreax (Rachel Kufper-Wienstein), neighborhood gossip Clairee Belcher (Natalie Pearl) and town newcomer Annelle Dupuy (Amelia Bellah) all find common ground over celebrating life.

Despite being warned of the health ramifications of carrying a child, Shelby wants to be a mother; upon breaking the news to her own mother during the holidays, Shelby is surprised by her mother’s dissatisfied reaction rooted in maternal concern. Instead, Truvy and the neighborhood women openly congratulate Shelby in lieu of her mother.

actors pose together

Shelby’s health concerns continue, forcing her to receive a donor kidney from her happily obliging mother. Despite these efforts to save her life, Shelby passes away, leaving her broken body, young and unsuspecting son and heartbroken band of women behind. M’Lynn is immediately comforted by the women who do their best to mitigate the pain of losing a child. Annelle, carrying her first child, chooses to name her child after Shelby, and thus Shelby lives on.

For Rachel Kupfer-Weinstein, who played the quirky character of Ouiser, “seeing this show full of people that [she has] grown alongside in the SOCSA program was one of the most rewarding and affirming experiences [she has] had in theater.”

According to Miss Kocol, the drama department’s new teacher, “[SOCSA] sold a comfortable amount of tickets and made a small profit from ‘Steel Magnolias,’ which will help to pay for [their] next shows, ‘Charlie Brown,’ ‘Hate Shakespeare’ and ‘The Addams Family.’” Tickets were $12 for students and seniors and $15 for adults. Sales from the “Steel Magnolias” show shirts, which were sold for $25 at the concession table, also benefited the program.

Designers Charlotte Tonks, Mackenzie Kruger, Steven Mayo, Natalie Pearl, Kendall Santos, Christina Sleek and Katie Webb, among a handful of other instrumental individuals, managed the production design which included costume, makeup and set design. Seamless costume changes, realistic sound effects, real props and a highly realistic set were just a few of the many details that highlighted the production. 

Directed by Miss Kocol and senior Andrew Guthary and produced by Keeran Reidling, “Steel Magnolias” ran without a hitch, with much success, at that. Miss Kocol, who “is absolutely loving Dana Hills so far,” appreciated that “the students who worked on ‘Steel Magnolias’ really put in their sweat, blood and tears, which show[ed] on stage.”

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