Theatre Marketing

St. Marys Community Players brings laughs and tears

By Emily Stewart

The St. Marys Community Players are bringing the traditional beauty shop back to life in their upcoming production of “Steel Magnolias.”

Robert Harling first wrote “Steel Magnolias” as a short story about his younger sister Susan and her death from diabetes. The story was adapted into a play in 1987, and first hit the stage on March 28, off Broadway at New York City’s WPA Theatre.

“Steel Magnolias” was then released as a feature film in 1989. Julia Roberts earned a “Best Actress in a Supporting Role” Golden Globe award for bringing Shelby Eatenton Latcherie to the big screen.

Left to Right: Leasa Barclay, Patti Muma-Cook, Rachel Brewer , Julia Gwyn, LauraJean McCann, and Aviva Kay in "Steel Magnolias" by the St. Marys Community Players

Left to Right: Leasa Barclay, Patti Muma-Cook, Rachel Brewer , Julia Gwyn, LauraJean McCann, and Aviva Kay

SMCP’s “Steel Magnolias” is directed by Rob Coles. Gretchen Rozek and Henry Monteith co-produced the play.

Maggie Whitcroft, a member of the SMCP Board of Directors for over five years, handles promotions, media and public relations duties. I spoke with Maggie about about why SMCP chose “Steel Magnolias”, along with her own theatre background and the perks of community theatre.

1) How long have you been involved with SMCP for?

I began volunteering with SMCP about 6 years ago as an ASM on Blythe Spirit, my daughter was in the show, she was 11 at the time.

2) When were you first interested in theatre?

When I was in high school I joined the drama club and worked on their musical “Anne of Green Gables,” but my drama experience really began as a child when my older brother would write movie scripts and along with myself, my younger brother and some of the neighbour kids would act in them.

After high school I attended Ryerson Theatre School for Theatre Production Management.  I stage managed theatre in Toronto and also did props. I left the theatre and had a 17 year career in Television news in Ottawa and at CTV News in Toronto.

My return to the theatre, almost 30 years later was with SMCP on their production of Blythe Spirit where I got hooked again.

3) What is it about community theatre that you enjoy?

Working in theatre brings so much joy to me but community theatre is so special because the pure essence of it is to bring theatre to the people and to give the community an all-encompassing feeling that it is their theatre.

Whether they participate as an audience, or as a volunteer, everyone brings their best and it gives a creative outlet to all those inclined.

Aviva Kay and LauraJean McCann in "Steel Magnolias" by the St. Marys Community Players

Aviva Kay and LauraJean McCann

4) What do you enjoy about community theatre?

Actually the words “community theatre” says it all. It is for the community.

It allows people to celebrate arts and culture in St. Marys.

We have two shows per season, plus our improv show in March. They give our community members the chance to show their talents that they can’t do in their 9-5 life and our audiences are always amazed at the level of talent we have in St. Marys and surrounding area.

We are an open group that works together very well. We are friends and we want to welcome new friends. We are a place to bring the community together and to share a common interest and experience.

It provides an opportunity for an outing, something to talk about with friends or neighbours and the chance to support our volunteers.

5) Why did SMCP decide to bring “Steel Magnolias” to the St. Marys Town Hall Theatre stage?

We feel that Steel Magnolias appeals to our community. It is based on a true story by playwright Robert Harling. Steel Magnolias is about the funny, prickly, devoted relationships between six vibrant – and very different – women.

It takes you on a journey through the unending cycle of birth and death illuminates both the profound tenderness and unbending strength of these flowery yet nail-tough friends.

Julia Gwyn and Patti Muma-Cook in "Steel Magnolias" by the St. Marys Community Players

Julia Gwyn and Patti Muma-Cook

6) Why should people see the SMCP’s production of “Steel Magnolias”?

Our audiences will definitely be entertained and moved with our production.

We are very lucky to have a loyal following that attends all our shows because they know the quality of the theatre we produce.

But for those who are new to SMCP we want to provide high quality theatrical experiences that makes them want to come back time and time again.

7) Is there anything else you would like to add?

SMCP is an award winning theatre group. We have just completed major renovations to our theatre. Some improvements are new curtains and blacks, lighting improvements, safety upgrades, new chairs and new theatre seats in the balcony.

SMCP always presents our collective best and we strive to reach excellence with each production.

Left to right, back to front: Patti Muma-Cook and Rachel Brewer, LauraJean McCann and Aviva Kay in "Steel Magnolias" by the St. Marys Community Players

Left to right, back to front: Patti Muma-Cook and Rachel Brewer, LauraJean McCann and Aviva Kay

Details Details

SMCP’s “Steel Magnolias” will run from October 28 to November 6 on the St. Marys Town Hall Stage. There will be a special preview performance on October 27, and matinee shows on October 29 and October 30 at 2.p.m. To purchase tickets, click here or visit the Flower Shop and More at St. Marys.

The cast includes:

Patti Muma-Cook as Truvy
Julia Gwyn as Shelby
LauraJean McCann as Ouiser
Aviva Kay as Clairee
Leasa Barclay as M’Lynn
Rachel Brewer as Annelle

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