‘Steel Magnolias’ play on Hamilton stage this weekend

Greater Hamilton Civic Theatre opens season with classic show directed by Chris Beiser.

HAMILTON — Celebrating the power of female friendship, Greater Hamilton Civic Theatre will bring “Steel Magnolias” to the stage at Parrish Auditorium with four performances of the beloved classic.

“Greater Hamilton Civic Theatre wanted to do this show because it’s extremely popular. It has some of the most iconic lines in it. People often say the lines, and they probably don’t even realize when they say something that they’re saying it from the play,” said Chris Beiser, the show’s director.

It’s a nice evening out, he said. It’s a good way to reconnect and a great show to do that with.

“COVID-19 was just a hard-hitting thing for everybody. So, this is just something that people are familiar with and, hopefully, they will come back out to the theater and start to enjoy the arts again,” Beiser said.

“Steel Magnolias” is the story of six Southern women, who live in a small town in Louisiana. Experiencing life’s ups and downs together, each scene reveals the bonds they share within the walls of a beauty shop. The group’s friendship is a prominent focus throughout the production’s storyline. The play has remained consistently popular since making its Off-Broadway debut in 1987.

“It’s six ladies that come to Truvy’s Beauty Shop each week, not necessarily to get their hair done, but because of the friendship they have with each other. It’s just a really sweet bond that the ladies have as they go through good times and bad times,” Beiser said.

He has always wanted to direct the show, and from a personal standpoint, Beiser said he can relate, because it brings back wonderful memories of when he was growing up.

“It’s a nice look at the nostalgic past for me,” he said.

“It reminds me a lot of my mother. She was a part of a group of ladies, and there were six of them. It’s reminiscent of those times when they were together at our house. I see this ‘Steel Magnolias’ idea, how they shared their stories of good and bad, and they would do anything for each other,” Beiser said.

The production’s cast is comprised of Lori Wegman (as Truvy), Alisha McFarlane (Annelle), Lisa Breithaupt (Clairee), Chelsey Cavendar (Shelby), Sue Combs (M’Lynn) and Rhonda Lucas (Ouiser). The show is produced by Barb Winkler and Jane Winkler.

“It’s wonderful to see the six women become like what it was at Truvy’s. They come to rehearsals, and it’s sometimes hard to get rehearsals started because they want to talk about everything that’s been going on with their lives, the good things and the bad things. So, it’s like watching life become this play,” Beiser said. “The six women have become very close and it’s very emotional to watch the show unfold.”

He said one of the things the characters are doing an excellent job of is not mimicking the movie, or the hundreds of productions of the play, but they are creating their own characters.

“It’s almost like you’ve taken away a wall of the beauty shop and you’re sneaking a look into this beauty shop, because it doesn’t seem like a play. It seems like you’re watching six women interact on a morning at a beauty shop. It’s not like they’re acting. They’re being very natural and that’s just a big credit to the talent of these women,” Beiser said.

Audiences can see that women are strong, and they are the steel of the “Steel Magnolias,” he said. The show also demonstrates how important friends are, and when they are true friendships, friends will do anything for each other, regardless of the situation

One of the surprises or challenges the cast had to face in getting ready for the show is they weren’t trained beauticians.

“My sister runs the JC Penney Salon at Bridgewater Falls, so we brought her in a couple times, and she has taught the ladies how to wash, style and roll hair, or how to do manicures and paint nails,” Beiser said.

“Steel Magnolias” is sponsored by Brown-Dawson-Flick Funeral Home and Unique Designs Hair Salon.


What: “Steel Magnolias” presented by Greater Hamilton Civic Theatre

When: 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday

Where: Parrish Auditorium, 1601 University Blvd., on the Miami University-Hamilton campus

Cost: Tickets are $18 for adults and $17 for seniors 60 and older and students. Tickets are available for purchase online, in-person and by phone. Group tickets are available for 20 or more (call in advance).

Tickets: (513) 737-7529 or www.ghctplay.com