Mendota H.S. drama department presents timeless story of female friendships

Cast members, left to right, Maya Martin, Devin Wade, Olivia Ross, and Faith Anderson rehearse for the upcoming production of Steel Magnolias. The production will take the stage Oct. 19-20 in the Mendota High School auditorium. Tickets will be available at the door. Not pictured are Maddy Pappas and Alex Stremlau. (Reporter photo by Jennifer Sommer)

MENDOTA – The Mendota High School Drama Department is rehearsing for a comedy-drama where six women will share the ups and downs of life. Steel Magnolias will be presented Oct. 19-20.

This moving story follows the bond between a group of Southern women from Louisiana. Written by Robert Harling, the play is based on his experience with his sister's death.

Harling adapted his original play for the screen in the 1989 film with the same title, starring Sally Field (M'Lynn), Julia Roberts (Shelby), Shirley MacLaine (Ouiser), Olympia Dukakis (Clairee), Dolly Parton (Truvy), and Daryl Hannah (Annelle).

Synopsis: "Truvy’s salon in Chinquapin, Louisiana is the go-to place for a beauty fix with a hearty side of gossip. Along with her overeager assistant Annelle, Truvy pampers her small-town clients with hairdos, manicures and all kinds of unsolicited advice. Anybody who’s anybody is a regular: There’s the doting M’Lynn and her soon-to-be-married daughter Shelby, the moody Ouiser and the well-to-do widow Clairee. Through witty banter and wisecracks, this hodgepodge group of women form friendships as strong as steel, which they are forced to lean on when tragedy strikes." (Guthrie Theatre)

The familiar characters will be played by Maddy Pappas as Truvy, Olivia Ross as Annelle, Faith Anderson as Clairee, Maya Martin as Shelby, Alex Stremlau as M'Lynn, and Devin Wade as Ouiser.

As the play progresses, the audience will be drawn to these six women of different ages and different perspectives on life who come together. "In their own ways, they are all strong, independent women," said Devin Wade.

Faith Anderson agreed that she liked playing a character that was confident and wasn't afraid to speak her mind–traits she thought she would like to embody more.

"I think the audience will realize that life is short and it is important to spend time with your family, too," added Olivia Ross.

With a limited number of male actors, this all female cast production was a good play to choose, noted co-director Jennifer Masini. "We are very excited to take on this production that is very different from what the drama club has done in years past. All six roles, equal in size of lines and importance, will offer unique challenges to all of our performers," she said.

"I think the lines have been easy to learn because my character is so relatable, but a lot of hard work has gone into it. We all are involved in many other activities, as well," commented Maya Martin.

The entire play will take place in Truvy's hair salon. The set design will feature a fully-functioning hair salon. Hair, makeup, costumes, and unique prop list will feature a 1980s vintage style.

An additional cast member, Sean Dullard, will play the roll of the radio announcer. The play is student directed and produced by Perris Stachlewitz. Production crew includes Angelique-Ashli Baker, Zachari Compell, Lainie Elston, Matthew Grenter, Bonnie Hall, Sophie Holland, Abigail Kuntz, Leilani Landeros, Lily Linden, Alayna Nosalik, Jocelyn Radomski, Emilio Raya, and Andrew Stamberger.

Steel Magnolias will take the stage on Saturday, Oct. 19 at 7 p.m. and Sunday, Oct. 20 at 2:30 p.m. in the Mendota High School Auditorium.

"I think the audience will definitely be swept up in the relationship between these women," noted Masini.

Also co-directing is Eric Masini, MHS drama club sponsor.

Cost for the show is $8 for adults, $5 for non-MHS students (ages 18 and under) and free of MHS students with a current MHS student ID.

A free will donation will also be taken in the foyer at both performances to benefit the American Diabetes Association.

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