Name the ultimate chick flick, and chances are "Steel Magnolias" will be near the top of your list. The 1989 movie with a star-powered female cast (Julia Roberts, Sally Field, Shirley MacLaine, Dolly Parton, Olympia Dukakis and Darryl Hannah) was the reason behind many a soggy pile of Kleenex for girls of all ages.
But for those who think the Maui OnStage production of "Steel Magnolias," opening next weekend at the Historic Iao Theater, is just for weepy women - take note. "This show is a lot like life!" says Jennifer Rose, who directs the stage version. "It has some sad moments, but a lot of joy too - it's an opportunity to see strong, capable people make the best of a situation."
The plot focuses on six unique Southern women: Annelle (Sharleen Lagattuta), Truvy (Kristi Scott), Ouiser (Marianne Vasquez), Miss Clairee (Jeanette Rucci), M'Lynn (Kelly Schroeder) and Shelby (Lehua Simon).
Clairee (Jeanette Rucci) regales Anelle (Sharleen Lagattuta) with small town gossip at Truvy’s Beauty Spot in Maui OnStage’s “Steel Magnolias.”
Maui OnStage photo
ERIC ROLPH photo
Seabury Hall students Olivia Neal (from left) Zoe Kleiman-Tapley, Serena Shipp, Skyla Lowery, Nicole Rosen, Megan Hazen and Carissa Land dance in “New World Symphony” choreographed by David Ward
"Each character has a strongly identifiable quality," Rose says. "We know these women - they are our sisters, mothers, aunties and friends."
The drama begins on the morning of Shelby's wedding to Jackson and spans the next three years of laughter and tears, including those caused by complications from Shelby's ongoing struggle with Type I diabetes.
"Steel Magnolias" playwright Robert Harling based Shelby's character on his own beloved younger sister, Susan, who died of complications from the disease. A New York actor who earned a law degree in Louisiana before pursuing a theatrical career, Harling wrote the play as an outlet for his grief and as a way to share the pain and triumphs of a family suffering with diabetes. The 1987 off-Broadway play was such a success that he adapted it for the Hollywood big screen, playing a small role as the minister who presides at Shelby's wedding.
"Much of the film's dialogue is lifted directly from the original script," Rose says. "The play really concentrates on the women - the men in their lives do not enter the beauty salon."
All the onstage action takes place in the sanctified arena of Truvy's beauty parlor. That includes not just drama between the characters, but real-life hairdressing action, according to Rose. "One of the major challenges is the timing for the hairdressing - from wash to set to dry to style," she says. "So dialogue, movement, everything has to be coordinated exactly to encompass the time required for each style."
Remembering that the time period was the 1980s, those styles should inspire memories, and a few laughs as well.
That goes for the men too.
"First of all, (men) know women - many of them are related to at least one woman!" Rose says. "Ultimately, it's about family, and the family 'Steel Magnolias' shares is not just the family of blood, but the family we have chosen for ourselves. I think there is value in the humanity of this show, regardless of gender."
* "Steel Magnolias" opens Friday, May 1, and runs through Sunday, May 17; at 7:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, and 3 p.m. Sundays. Tickets are $20 for adults, $18 for students and seniors, $15 for all Sunday matinees. Advance tickets are available at If the Shoe Fits, 21 N. Market St. in Wailuku, and online at www.mauionstage. com.
More than 60 performers will take the stage for Seabury Hall Performing Arts' Dance Showcase 2009, opening Saturday night. David Ward directs the annual concert, which displays all levels of dance and ballet classes. Highlights include several suites of dances: one set to the music of Earth, Wind & Fire; another called "Metropolis" illustrating modern city life; another called "Swing Low Suite" celebrating the life of actor, singer and activist Paul Robeson. Visiting choreographer Julane Stites and guest artist Peter Richards along with Andr Morisette will add their talents to the mix. Showtimes are 7:30 p.m. Saturday; 3 p.m. Sunday; 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, May 1 and 2; and 3 p.m. Sunday, May 3; at the Seabury Hall Performance Studio. Tickets are $11 for adults, $9 for seniors, $5 for students. For reservations and information, call 573-1257.
Flower power lives on! The King Kekaulike High School Drama Department gears up for "Groovy: A Musical Comedy Tribute to the 1960s," by Tim Kelly and Bill Francouer. The play will be performed at 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday, May 1 and 2; and at 6 p.m. Sunday, May 3, in the student dining room. Tickets are $6 for adults, $4 for students, free for children age 5 and younger; available at the door 30 minutes before showtime.
Maui Academy of Performing Arts will hold auditions from 4 to 6 p.m. Saturday for "Out of Bounds," a MAPA dance intensive culminating in a video shoot. Intermediate and advanced dancers and choreographers age 11 and up are invited to audition at the MAPA studios, located at 2027 Main St. in Wailuku (entrance off Market Street). No appointments are necessary. For more information, visit www.mauiacademy.org or call Willow at 244-8760.
Next up from Maui OnStage: "The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas," a playful tale about the rise and fall of the "Chicken Ranch." MOS will hold auditions from 11:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, May 2. Roles are open to all singers and dancers, both experienced and new to the stage. Kristi Scott will direct, with musical direction by Steven Dascoulias and choreography by Alden Caple. The play opens July 10 and runs through Aug. 2. To reserve an audition slot, call 244-8680, ext. 23.