McLeod Summer Playhouse’s Steel Magnolias

McLeod Summer Playhouse’s Steel Magnolias
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Who: McLeod Summer Playhouse
What: Robert Harling’s Steel Magnolias (live theater)
Where:
When: 2012-06-14 - 2012-06-24
Robert Harling's classic play Steel Magnolias will open the McLeod Summer Playhouse June 14
Jennifer “Jay” Bull

Robert Harling's classic play Steel Magnolias will open the McLeod Summer Playhouse June 14, 16, and 22 at 7:30 p.m. with a matinee performance June 24 at 2 p.m.

Steel Magnolias is a fan favorite and follows a group of Louisiana women who often meet each other at Truvy's Beauty Shop.

“This is the first time that I've actually played a role for a second time,” Missy Thibodeaux-Thompson, a professor of theater at the University of Illinois Springfield, who is portraying Truvy in this summer's production, told Nightlife. “I played Truvy two years ago at the Shawnee Summer Theater in Bloomfield, Indiana, which was very, very fun. I absolutely love this role-- I love the show. [Truvy] is the glue that holds the rest of the women together because her beauty shop is the home away from home. It's the women cave. I love her-- ever since I first started working on the show a couple of year ago. She has all these wonderful, fun zingers, great lines. She has wonderful compassion about her, and she is really fun to play.”

Even though she has played Truvy before, because each production is new, Thibodeaux-Thompson is working to make sure that she does not have preconceived ideas about the McLeod Summer Playhouse version.

“It has been really fun to pick it back up again and dive back in,” Thibodeaux-Thompson said. “I think the challenge will be, obviously, to make this a fresh character in a fresh production, but it is a fun challenge. I only know one of my fellow actors; I haven't met the others yet. [I’m t]rying to keep a blank slate in my mind as I'm doing some preparation work before we show up for rehearsals. I think it will be really exciting.”

In addition to playing the role two years ago, Thibodeaux-Thompson was born in Louisiana and has other, more personal connections to her role as Truvy.

“Something I find really fun about working on this show is I was born in southern Louisiana,” Thibodeaux-Thompson said. “So it is fun, it is sort of like coming home. Now, these women are not from southern Louisiana, so there is a little bit of a difference. It is kind of like the difference between Southern Illinois and the Chicago area. There's a lot about these women that I know, and I think we all do to a certain extent. Interestingly enough, my mother, when I was growing up and I was very young, was a hairdresser. My godmother was her teacher and ran a beauty shop and a beauty school, so I was kind of brought up around this a little bit.”

While her personal connection to the role gives her an added joy in portraying Truvy, Thibodeaux-Thompson said this play has universal appeal.

“It is kind of fun having my own personal heritage connected in a certain way,” Thibodeaux-Thompson said. “I think that is one of the beauties about Robert Harling's play is that it's very distinctively about these Louisiana women, but they are so relatable to everybody. And not just women. I have had men who saw my previous production and they sort of don't want to turn in their man card, but they will admit that they really dug it. It's a human story. It is about people and their love and their challenges. Their love for one another and the strength that they have that helps each other see them through this challenge-- I think that is a pretty universal story. It just happens within the specificity of these Louisiana women, who are sharp and witty and fun.”

Tickets are $25 for adults and $10 for students. For tickets, visit <http://SouthernTicketsOnline.com>, call (618) 453-6000, or stop by any Southern Tickets Online walkup location, including Shryock Auditorium, McLeod Theater, and Walker's Bluff General Store. There are no service charges for in-person purchases, though phone and online purchases will carry charges ranging from $1 to $1.50.

The Summer Playhouse series continues with You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown June 15, 17, 21, and 23; Chicago July 6, 7, and 8, and July 13, 14, and 15; and Cinderella July 26, 27, 28, 29, and 30.

For more information, stop by the theater box office on the south side of the Communications Building, call (618) 453-5741, or visit <http://playhouse.siu.edu>.

who: McLeod Summer Playhouse

what: Robert Harling’s Steel Magnolias (live theater)

where: Communications Building McLeod Theater

when: June 14, 16, 22, and 24