Monday, October 21, 2013

Tears and laughter take centre stage at Douglas College in Steel Magnolias

A lot can happen in a small-town Louisiana beauty parlor.

For playwright Robert Harling, it was the prime setting for a tale about a group of female friends who lean on each other when faced with hardship.

Steel Magnolias, the play that spawned the popular 1989 film of the same name, hits the stage at Douglas College Nov. 1-9.

"The play is a wonderful ensemble piece," director Deborah Neville says.

In this case, the ensemble is made up of six second-year Douglas College theatre students.

"All of the characters are beautifully developed with their own storylines, so that gives each of the student actors the opportunity to deliver a great performance," Neville says.

Harling wrote the play following his diabetic sister's death.

At the centre of the action is Shelby, young woman with Type 1 diabetes who faces a complicated personal decision related to the disease.

As Shelby struggles with her health, the play also explores how the women rely upon each other-particularly their lively senses of humour-to cope with life's hardships.

"It's a simple story about women who come together and let go of class, religious and other differences in order to support each other through difficult times," Neville says. "There are elements of sadness in the play but also a great deal of humour."

Steel Magnolias is being presented by the departments of Theatre and Stagecraft & Event Technology.

The play runs Nov. 1-9 at the Studio Theatre, Douglas College, 700 Royal Ave., New Westminster. Tickets ($8-$12) are available through Massey Theatre, 604 521 5050.