Director comments on ‘Steel Magnolias’"Steel Magnolias,” the comedy-drama by Robert Harling, will be performed from April 17 through May 3 at The Phipps Center for the Arts.
"Steel Magnolias,” the comedy-drama by Robert Harling, will be performed from April 17 through May 3 at The Phipps Center for the Arts.
The play is about a group of gossipy Southern ladies in a small town beauty parlor who deal with a series of events that are alternately hilarious and touching, and in the end, deeply revealing of their strength, love, and purposefulness. The title suggests that the characters are as delicate as magnolias but as tough as steel.
Director Kasey Jean Tunell has a B.F.A. in theater management and direction from UW-Superior and has worked as a director and stage manager in the Twin Cities and the Duluth area over the last 12 years. She recently staged “The Best Christmas Pageant Ever” and “The Cemetery Club” for The Phipps, Rogers and Hammerstein’s “Cinderella” for Theater of the Spirit, and the female version of “The Odd Couple” for River Falls Community Theatre. She is also an active member of The Phipps Drama Council.
Tunell calls “Magnolias” a “dream script” and says it is by far her favorite movie. “Harling wrote ‘Magnolias’ to help him cope with the death of his sister, Susan,” she said. “Each character is so rich and wonderful. It’s a character study of women in general.”
She wants the audience to leave the play knowing that “we need to carry on through the tragedy in our lives. It’s family and friends that help us get through the tough times. In ‘Magnolias,’ these women have developed a strong support system. Even though their personalities are very different, they bond with each other.”
“Remember though, ‘Steel Magnolias’ is still a comedy. It will bounce your emotions from uproarious laughter to tears of sadness and joy.”
The director and cast members encourage Phipps patrons to donate to the ponytail drive of the Beautiful Lengths celebration to benefit adult women with cancer. Tunell will be cutting her long hair for it on opening night, and Mariah Christensen, who plays Shelby, will also be donating her hair to the cause. Patrons who bring in a pony tail 8 inches or longer will receive $2 off their ticket. To find out more about Beautiful Lengths, visit www.beautifullengths.com.
“Steel Magnolias” runs April 17-May 3 on Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m. on the main stage. Tickets are $22 for adults and $15 for all students, with a $2 discount for the opening weekend, and a $2 discount for seniors on the Sunday matinees. For reservations, contact The Phipps ticket office at (715) 386-8409 or visit www.ThePhipps.org.