Dinner and a show: See ‘Steel Magnolias’ in Fridley

Community Theatre presents first dinner theater production 

The Fridley Community Theatre will present a new experience next weekend with a winter dinner theater show featuring “Steel Magnolias.”

The community theater, for the past few years, has produced a summertime musical. This year’s summer musical will be “Fiddler on the Roof,” coming at the end of July.

“Way back when we first started the community theater up, we wanted to do more than one show a year, but we wanted to get a couple shows under out belt first,” Director Tom Larson told Sun Focus.

Early on, the theater leadership decided they would like to a dinner theater, but they had to work out how it could come together – where could it be performed, who would supply the food, what show would be best.

From left to right, Shelby, Truvy, Annelle and Clairee chatter away in the beauty salon in a scene of “Steel Magnolias.” (Photo by Mary D. Carlson)

From left to right, Shelby, Truvy, Annelle and Clairee chatter away in the beauty salon in a scene of “Steel Magnolias.” (Photo by Mary D. Carlson)

“Steel Magnolias” works well for the dinner theater production because it has a small cast – of only six women – and has one set, so the play can fit into a smaller performance space.

The show was written by Robert Harling in memory of his sister and the play was the predecessor to the well-known 1980’s movie of the same name. Set in a beauty salon in a Louisiana town, the play tells the story of love, loss and friendships. There’s Annelle, who is not sure if she’s still married and is the assistant to Truvy, the salon owner. The salon is visited by women of all ages, including the town’s rich curmudgeon Ouiser, the eccentric millionaire Miss Clairee and the local socialite M’Lynn, whose daughter Shelby, a diabetic, is about to get married. The show opens on Shelby’s wedding day, and the play moves toward tragedy when she risks her health in pregnancy.

From left to right, Anelle, Clairee, Ouiser, Truvy, Shelby (seated), look together at a photo album in this scene from “Steel Magnolias.” (Photo by Mary D. Carlson)

From left to right, Anelle, Clairee, Ouiser, Truvy, Shelby (seated), look together at a photo album in this scene from “Steel Magnolias.” (Photo by Mary D. Carlson)

“What’s different about the play and movie, is that this all takes place in one location – the beauty shop – and there are no men. (The women) talk about the husbands and brothers and family, but we don’t see any of the guys – it’s all about the women. I love the show, personally, because it brings you to tears and two seconds later it brings you to belly laughs,” Larson said.  “… I love that the author was able to do that. The script is well written.

“The gals in these roles are doing a wonderful job of playing both emotional realms. It’s a strong show.” Larson noted that five of the six women have played roles in previous Fridley Community Theatre shows, and one actress is new to this scene but has had previous stage experience.

“I can honestly say there haven’t been any challenges in (the production of) this show. In a big musical, you’re coordinating with the music director and the choreographer, and organizing the cast. Here, it’s like everybody’s got to pull their own weight, you know what I mean? You can’t hide in the background.”

DINNER THEATER & TICKETS

Seatings for the Fridley Community Theatre’s show at the Fridley Community Center, 6085 Seventh Ave. N.E., are 6 p.m. Thursday through Saturday, Feb. 7-9; 6 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 16; and 3 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 17.

In a mother and daughter moment, Shelby, left, kneels to talk with her mother, M’Lynn, in the “Steel Magnolias” play. (Photo by Mary D. Carlson)

In a mother and daughter moment, Shelby, left, kneels to talk with her mother, M’Lynn, in the “Steel Magnolias” play. (Photo by Mary D. Carlson)

Dinner will be catered, but Fridley Community Theatre volunteers will help with serving, dish washing and other tasks. Diners will have options of: sauteed chicken breast with lemon picatta sauce; carved roast beef with sauteed mushrooms in a sauce; or vegetarian lasagna. Each meal is complemented with garlic mashed potatoes and roasted vegetables, a garden salad and dinner roll. Cookies and bars for dessert will be available at intermission.

Because it is a dinner theater and meals will be purchased for each audience member, advance purchase is required. No tickets will be sold at the door the day of a show. For tickets, call 763-502-5100 or email toni.craft@ fridley.k12.mn.us. Tickets cost $25 each.

Info: fridleycommunitytheatre.org.

MEET THE CAST

The cast members are:

- Helen Martin (M’Lynn)

- Jessica Scott (Shelby)

- Rachel Cathey (Truvy)

- Mickey Stevens (Ouiser)

- Janet Mondloh (Clairee)

- Molly Hanley (Annelle)

 

Contact Sarah Peterson at sarah.peterson@ecm-inc.com

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