Area residents will have the chance to see the classic Robert Harling play “Steel Magnolias” brought to life on stage at the Lorraine Theatre Jan. 24-26.
Director Ashley Beauvois was approached to direct a production for the Lorraine Theatre by Save the Lorraine Foundation member Betty Richards.
“I thought ‘what is the best show you could do with a small cast and not a lot of sets,’” Beauvois said with a laugh. “Since it’s a small stage.”
Beauvois chose “Steel Magnolias” because it’s one of her favorites and believed it would be popular with audiences.
“Everybody loves this show,” she said.
Beauvois loves the play because it’s based on a true story and for how well it portrays the bonds between women.
“I think it just shows the connection that women have to each other throughout life and just the true friendship,” she said.
“Steel Magnolias” was adapted into a movie starring Julia Roberts, Sally Field, Dolly Parton and Shirley MacLaine in 1989.
Beauvois said the difference between that adaptation and the stage play is the presence of men. While there are male characters featured in the film, the stage play’s cast is made up completely of women.
Bringing those characters to life on the stage at the Lorraine will be the following: Jeanette Andre as “M’Lynn,” Holly Isaac as “Shelby,” Judy Doeden as “Clairee,” Amy Buttram as “Ousier,” and Janell Sechriest as “Annelle.” Emma Rayls is serving as the stage manager.
Beauvois said she had worked with Miller and Buttram before, but this will be the first time working with the rest of the cast, which has been a fun experience for her.
“It’s been a lot of fun,” she said.”
Beauvois and the cast have been preparing for the production since.
“We took some time off for Christmas, but we’ve been going strong since the second week of November,” she said.
Beauvois has directed other productions in the community, especially at Hoopeston Area High School, but this is her first time directing at the Lorraine and she’s excited to have the chance.
“I’m extremely humbled and excited that they even asked me to do something for them,” she said. “That was a big boost for me. It was nice to know that they thought I had the ability to do this for them.”
Beyond having the chance to direct a performance at the Lorraine, Beauvois said she has treasured the opportunity to work with the cast of the play.
“I’m just so excited to be working with those six ladies up there,” she said. “Because they are just phenomenal and they just bring something extra that the other doesn’t have.”
Beauvois said there was a surprisingly large turnout for auditions for the production with twice the number of people they needed showing up to audition.
She hadn’t expected to see so much interest in performing on-stage and left her with the difficult decision of choosing who made the cast and who didn’t.
“I originally thought that I wouldn’t have enough people and I would be begging people to be in it,” she said.
However, Beauvois said, she quickly realized she had made the right casting decisions during their first rehearsal.
“After our first rehearsal, I knew 100 percent I had the exact right people for the roles,” she said.
Looking to the future, Beauvois is eager to direct more shows at the Lorraine in the future and has already starting discussing possibilities with the Save the Lorraine Foundation.
“They’re coming up with ideas about what they would like to do next,” she said. “Hopefully they ask us back to do something else.”
Showtimes are 7 p.m. Jan. 24 and Jan. 25 and 3 p.m. Jan. 26. Tickets are $10 and can be purchased online at www.thelorrainetheatre.com or at the door.