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Carroll County arts group presents ‘Steel Magnolias’

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By Jeff Moore

Port William Players takes to the stage Mother’s Day weekend, May 9-11, at the Historic English School House for its production of “Steel Magnolias.”

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The comedy, based around Truvy’s beauty salon in Chinquapin, La., brings together an all-female cast to tell the touching story of Shelby, a diabetic, who learns she’s pregnant and gives her life for her baby.

Players’ director Deborah Garrent, who also plays Ouiser in the production, said she selected this play because she has been in it before and one of the cast members wanted to do the show.

“It’s a great Mother’s Day play,” Garrett said in a Tuesday interview. “I just thought it would be nice to do it in Carrollton.”

The play features wise-cracking Truvy and her eager new assistant Annelle working in the shop where the ladies who are “anybody” come to get their hair done. Truvy dispenses shampoos and free advice to the town’s rich curmudgeon, Ouiser; an eccentric millionaire, Miss Clairee, who has a raging sweet tooth; and the local social leader, M’Lynn, whose daughter, Shelby (the prettiest girl in town), is about to marry a “good ole boy.” 

Garrett said the play is filled with hilarious repartee and humorously revealing verbal collisions. With Shelby’s news, the sudden realization of their mortality affects the others, but also draws on the underlying strength — and love — which give the play, and its characters, the special quality to make them truly touching, funny and marvelously amiable company in good times and bad, she said.

Rhonda Breek plays the role of Truvy, while Rachel Hodge takes on the role of Annele, Garrett said. Joyce Doyle plays Clairee, with Christin Herbst in the role of Shelby and Cindy Dunn as M’Lynn.

With only 10 days left before opening night, Garrett said she is getting a little nervous.

“I am sure everything will fall in place, but this is the time everything starts flying at me in every direction,” she said. “I don’t know if I could pull this off without my co-director Mary Louden. She definitely knows how to keep things on track.”

Garrett and Loudon worked together in 2012 for the Port William Players’ production of “It’s a Wonderful Life.” Port William Players is a committee under the Carroll County Arts Foundation.

Garrett said others who helped on that production, such as Greg Beck, are back in support roles for this year’s performance. She said Jeff Moore is working on the program for the show and provided the voice for the DJ in the play.

She said Cody Brown of Family Worship Center has his sound recordings and downloads ready to go.

“The Carroll County Arts Foundation is helping us with the ticket sales, and they seem to be doing a great job,” Garrett said. “There are so many people helping us and it seems it takes the whole community.”

Garrett also is excited about the cast that has been working hard for months on the show. “They are simply perfect,” she said. “We all look forward to seeing you and hope you enjoy the action that is set in Truvey’s beauty shop.”

Tickets remain available for all performances and are on sale at Carrollton Office Supply and The News-Democrat. Friday and Saturday performances are at 7 p.m., and tickets are $12 per person. Sunday’s show includes a luncheon before the play – beginning at 1 p.m. with the play following – and tickets are $30 per person.

Garrett said sponsors such as Earl Floyd Ford, The News-Democrat and Carrollton Office Supply helped make the performance possible. The Players have also received help from Family Worship Center, Relevant Church, McNeal’s, Betty’s Collectibles, North American Stainless, Trinika Laughlin, Historic English School House, Burgins Floor Covering and Craig’s Do It Center.

For more information, call Garrett at (502) 732-4261.