2011 - 2012 Season > Steel Magnolias
September 9-25

by Robert Harling
directed by Nancy Ryan

A skillfully crafted, lovingly evoked picture of eccentricity in the small southern town of Chinquapin, Louisana, Steel Magnolias is filled with hilarious repartee and acerbic - but humorously revealing - verbal collisions. The play is suffused with humor and tinged with tragedy. Laugh and cry with the entertaining women of Truvey's Beatty Shop and enjoy a couple of hours of everything great the theatre has to offer.

Directors Notes:

Steel Magnolias is a comedy/drama play about the bond among a group of Southern women in northwest Louisiana. It is written by Robert Haling, based on his experience with the death of his younger sister, Susan Harling Robinson. As her best friend and closest sibling, Harling found it very difficult to cope with her death. He was advised by many of his friends to write about his feelings as a coping method. It began as a short story and evolved into a full length play as Harling didn’t feel that a short story adequately conveyed the complexity of the relationships and the emotions that existed with the characters. He felt it important to include the way the characters utilized humor and lighthearted conversations to assist them in coping with the seriousness of the underlying situations. The title suggest the “female characters are as delicate as magnolias but as tough as steel.” The magnolia specifically references a magnolia tree they are arguing about at the beginning.

The action centers on Truvy’s beauty parlor and the women who regularly gather there. The story begins on the morning of Shelby’s wedding to Jackson and covers events over the next three years, including Shelby’s decision to have a child despite having Type 1 diabetes and the complications that result from the decision. There is also a glimpse of the unlikely friendship between Clairee and Ouiser; Annells’s transformation from a shy, anxious newcomer in town to a good-time girl and then to a revival-tent Christian; and Truvy’s relationships with the men in her family. Although the main story line involves Shelby, her mother and Shelby’s medical battles, the underlying group-friendship among all six women is
prominent throughout the drama.

Settle in for a great night of theatre because Steel Magnolias has everything good theatre has to offer: Fun, yet complex, characters, comedy and tragedy. So bring your funny bone and your hanky.


Adelle Cottrell (Truvy) is excited to be returning to Barnstormers in a fantastic role as part of an exceptional cast. A transplant from Atlanta, her acting credits include Daisy Mae in Li’l Abner, Laurie in Oklahoma and, most recently, Mrs. Pert in Look Homeward, Angel here at Barnstormers. She serves as treasurer of the Barnstormers Board of Directors. She would like to thank the directors for this wonderful opportunity and her family for their support.

Melissa Lenker (Anelle) is very excited about being on the stage once again after taking an absence from acting during her year spent in Austria. She has been in a variety of productions at Stardust Theater, including Remember Me, Trick or Treat, Five Tellers Dancing in the Rain, and Crimes of the Heart. Melissa has also performed with RMT in Carousel, as well as with Teen Impact Theater and Heartland Children’s Theater. Off stage, Melissa enjoys volunteering in the community at Wild Life Images and working with students in a mentoring program called College Dreams. Thanks to her family and friends for their support!

Diane Nichols (Clairee) Steel Magnolias is Diane’s first show with Barnstormers and she is delighted to be a part of this kind, supportive theatre family. Portraying Clairee Belcher in Truvy’s salon has given her the idea that perhaps she should have her own hair done professionally more often. Diane was most recently seen playing Sylvia Stein in the rapturous comedy End Days at A.C.T. in Ashland. Some past roles up North in Seattle include Mrs. Upson in Auntie Mame, Winifred in Impromptu, and the no-nonsense inspector in Agatha Christie’s mystery The Patient.

Olivia Lovell (Shelly) is returning for the thir time to the Barnstormers stage. Previous involvements include Look Homeward, Angel as Laura James and Giacinta in Scapino. Olivia has had the opportunity to join Nancy Ryan at Imagine, Sunday evenings at Barnstormers, and last fall in Dear Uncle Jake murder mystery dinner theater. Before moving to Grants Pass Olivia enjoyed working with community theater and television production in Nashville, Tn.

Angela Padilla’s (M’Lynn) love for acting actually began in 5th grade. Since then, she has continued to be involved in many aspects of theater. She’s performed locally in RMT’s productions of Oliver! and Bye, Bye Birdie and Barnstormer’s Trap For A Lonely Man. Although a very active board member with Rogue Music Theatre, she is looking forward to being on stage again in Steel Magnolias. The role of M’Lynn is very special to her. This performance is dedicated to her Uncle Dean and all the loved ones who continue to miss him.

Lynn Beach (Ouiser) has been a singer, pianist, and entertainer for 40 years. She started acting at the prompting of John Davidson, yes, THE John Davidson. Starting late in her career; Lynn enrolled in two years of acting classes and completed them in one. She was addicted. She acted and costumed for theatres in the Bay Area, in addition to acting, costuming and building sets for RMT & Barnstormers. She felt that at her age, she was just going to concentrate on production, but Nancy Ryan insisted she audition for Ouiser. Thanks, Nancy, oh what fun!

Production Crew

Nancy Ryan (Director) Nancy has been with Barnstormers for most of her adult life. (She’s not saying how long that is). We’ve seen her on stage many times, recently as Lillian in I Hate Hamlet. Her favorite here was Blanch in A Streetcar Named Desire. She played M’Lynn in Steel Magnolias in Huntington Beach, CA, for which she won an award, and with Stardust Theatre. “I’m very excited to have this opportunity to be on the other side of the stage, directing my all time favorite play and with a wonderful, talented group of women.”

Emma Frankland (Production Stage Manager) can't deny that theater runs in her blood. Her great-grandfather started his own performing company in Belgium that her grandfather routinely performed in. At a young age she followed her dad around at Rogue Music Theater and started working with Stillpoint Studios at age 15. Since then she has been working backstage for theaters all over the Rogue Valley. Thank you so much for supporting the arts and community theater. Without you, none of us would be here.

Anna Gorskaya (Stage Manager) was born in Russia and attended four years of Russian children’s theatre. She was an assistant stage manager for Noises Off in Barnstormer's; also did lights and sounds for every performance in this play. Anna feels that it has been noteworthy to work with a remarkable director Nancy Ryan and artfully bizarre and witty cast and crew. Sit back and enjoy this marvelous play! No bottles cracks, por favor!

Kandi Tripp (Assistant Stage Manager) arried 26 years, I've been a stay-at-home mother of four boys, for 25 years. Going to the theater meant something totally different, back then. Now I am a college student looking for a degree in Drama Therapy and Youth Counseling. I am relatively new to the theater, although I was in a play in junior high, and I've taken a couple of theater classes since starting college. The theater has always been an interest of mine; acting is a dream that is now coming closer to reality.

Timmee Frankland (Light and Sound) enjoys making movies and reading. He is currently enjoying the book Rip Tide by Kat Falls. This isn't Timmee’s first play; he's been in multiple plays on stage, back stage, and just recently for the play I Hate Hamlet he was the sound technician. He hopes you will enjoy the play!

Stephen J. Gleffe (Props) has played many roles: Merriman the Butler in Annie, Jr, a Zombie in Night of the Living Dead, and Larry in Cheaper by the Dozen. He’s been in The Pajama Game, Guys and Dolls, Seussical the Musical, and Singing in the Rain. He’s worked with One Eleven Theater, Playback Theater Company, Dig It, and the Murder Mystery Dinner Theater. He has a role in the upcoming Rocky Horror Picture Show. Currently he’s attending SOU to study psychology.