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'Steel Magnolias' returns to its roots at Big Noise Theatre.

Byline: Submitted by Big Noise Theatre

Big Noise Theatre presents the second show of its 2018-19 season, "Steel Magnolias," opening Friday, Jan. 11, at the Prairie Lakes Theater in Des Plaines.

"Steel Magnolias" didn't get its start as the popular 1989 film. First, it was a play written by Robert Harling just months after his sister, Susan, died of complications from diabetes and childbirth. Michael Weller, a playwright himself, and his wife, Kathy, urged the grieving Harling to process his sister's death by writing.

Driven by a need to give his newborn nephew something to remember of his sister, it only took him 10 days to complete the script inspired by Susan's tale and of the strong women he grew up around in his hometown of Natchitoches, Louisiana.

The play eventually opened off-Broadway on March 28, 1987, and Hollywood came calling about six months later with talks of Sally Field, Shirley MacLaine, Daryl Hannah, Olympia Dukakis, Dolly Parton, and, of course, Julia Roberts set to star.

Unlike the film, the play's action is singularly set in a homespun beauty salon in the fictional Chinquapin, Louisiana, where all the ladies who are "anybody" come to have their hair done.

Helped by her eager new assistant, Annelle, the wise-cracking Truvy dispenses shampoos and free advice to the town's rich curmudgeon, Ouiser; the cheerful widow of the former mayor, Miss Clairee; and the local social leader, M'Lynn, whose daughter, Shelby, is about to be married.

These six Southern women face life's ups and downs together as they gossip, needle and jab each other with good-humored zingers. But when push comes to shove, they are there for one another, especially in the darkest of times.

"Steel Magnolias" is directed by Heather Currie and features Mariah Kuhn as Shelby Eatenton-Latcherie; Marianne Embree as M'Lynn Eatenton; Julie Orbach as Ouiser Boudreaux; Nicola Howard as Clairee Belcher; Karen Neidlinger as Truvy Jones; and Amanda Hays as Annelle Dupuy-Desoto.

The production staff includes Sarah Lewis, scenic design; Martha Shuford, costume design; Diane D. Fairchild, lighting design; Patrick John O'Brien, sound design; Bob Silton, prop design/stage manager; Keith Ryan, hair and wig design; Alex Huston, master carpenter; Michael P. Greenlief Jr., producer; and Debbie Szczesniak, producer.

Big Noise Theatre produces a three show main stage season at Prairie Lakes Theater in Des Plaines and has been doing so since 2005. In addition to "Steel Magnolias," the 2018-19 season concludes this spring with "9 to 5 the Musical," opening April 26 and running through May 12.

For theater goers of all ages, "A Year with Frog and Toad" opens Jan. 19 and runs alongside "Steel Magnolias" under Big Noise Theatre's Especially For Kids program. For information about "Frog and Toad," visit

"Steel Magnolias" runs Jan. 11-27, Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m. at Prairie Lakes Theater, 515 E. Thacker St. in Des Plaines. For tickets and more information, visit or call (847) 604-0275.

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Title Annotation:Neighbor
Publication:Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL)
Date:Jan 9, 2019
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