Emporia State’s Theater Department will put on “Steel Magnolias,” which will run for four performances, opening Feb. 27 and closing March 2. 

After 20 years at ESU, this will be Theresa Mitchell’s, “Steel Magnolias” director and professor of theater, last show. Mitchell has helped put on approximately 30 plays. 

“Steel Magnolias is a powerful comic-drama about family, love and friendship,” said Mitchell. “The play is set in a beauty shop where friends gather most Saturday mornings to laugh, cry, gossip, and get their hair styled. The central action focuses on Shelby and her mother, M’Lynn. These characters reveal they have the strength of steel, while the beauty of a magnolia.”

Mitchell spent lots of time and energy on theater, and as a director, she used this experience to make a connection with the show. 

“I began research and analysis for the production in September,” Mitchell said. “A director needs to understand how the story is constructed, how it develops, what are key ideas, moments, and arc.  Steel Magnolias is a character-driven play. As such, I analyzed each and prepared for the auditions. Along the way, I met with the production team, which includes designers and stage managers.”

The crew have been rehearsing from 7-10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday evenings for the past four weeks. 

“The main job and duties of the stage manager are being in communication with all aspects of the production (directing, costumes, set, lights, props, actors, etc) and make sure things run smoothly,” said Brian Percival, stage manager and junior theater education major. “In addition, I assist the director in rehearsals, and when we get into technical and dress rehearsals and performances, I make sure the production runs the way the director envisioned.”

 The biggest challenge of this job is making sure that all details of the production are communicated between directors and designers, according to Percival.

“I would have to say lines is the most difficult part,” said Zulema Renteria, an actress in the show and senior theater major. “This is the most lines I’ve ever had for a role, so it’s been a little hard getting them all down.”

Renteria plays Truvy Jones in “Steel Magnolias.” 

“Everything else about practice has been a breeze,” Renteria said. “The stage managers are amazing, our director is so supportive and I’m lucky enough to be in a cast of talented, wonderful ladies. What more could I ask for?”

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