First McLeod Summer Playhouse performance opens tonight

Jessica Tezak Daily Egyptian

The play that inspired the 1989 film with Julia Roberts and Dolly Parton will come to life at the McLeod Summer Playhouse’s first performance of the season.

“Steel Magnolias” will be the first of four performances set to take the stage at the playhouse, with “You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown” set to open June 15, Chicago set to open July 6, and “Cinderella” wrapping things up July 26.

Vincent Rhomberg, marketing and public information coordinator for the theater department, said the playhouse is the only professional summer theater in the entire region. He said the yearly event hires more than 60 up-and-coming young actors, designers, directors and technicians.

With a cast made entirely of women, “Steel Magnolias” director Jenny Holcombe said tonight’s play is all about friendship and small town life. Holcombe is also the artistic director for the playhouse, and said while she has directed five shows at the summer playhouse, this year’s performance and cast will stand out.

“What’s great about this cast of six women is that most of them are local,” she said. “The entire cast has bonded together very well to create wonderful women to look up to and admire.”

The play takes place in Louisiana during the 1980s and centers around Truvy’s Beauty Shop, a local hub for small town gossip.  Things begin to take a tragic turn for the ladies at the beauty shop when M’Lynn, played by Susan Patrick Benson, associate professor of theater, and her daughter Shelby, played by Samantha Myers, are faced with the issue of Shelby’s deadly disease.

Myers, a senior from Murphysboro studying musical theater, said “Steel Magnolias” has provided her with both her first professional acting job and an opportunity to expand her acting experience before she enters her final year at SIU.

“I have loved every second of being in “Steel Magnolias,” she said. “The older ladies are so much fun to be around and I’ve learned so much from them, it’s like having acting class disguised as a play.”

Myers and the rest of the cast will put their skills to the test tonight when the curtain opens at 7:30 p.m.

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About Caleb Motsinger

Caleb Motsinger can be reached at cmotsinger@dailyegyptian.com or 536-3311 ext. 269.

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