BNT prepares for stage return

November 30, 2021 BY

In rehearsal: Peppa Sindar will play the role of Ouiser Boudreaux. Photo: SUPPLIED

JULIA Roberts and Dolly Parton fans will likely remember the Steel Magnolias story from the late-80s movie.

But the tale will be locally retold live, as a small Ballarat National Theatre cast performs the play in December at Mount Rowan Secondary College’s auditorium.

Currently in rehearsals, Steel Magnolias is a cross-generational piece about six female friends, their sense of community, the challenges in their lives, and their personal searches for independence.

Directed by Dr Mary-Rose McLaren, the story explores their resilience and growth over two years, and features an all-female cast, with Olivia French as Shelby.

“This play is just set in Truvy’s Hair Salon, and when it opens, it’s Shelby’s wedding day. She’s going to get her hair done from the only place to get your hair done in this town,” French said.

“Shelby is a diabetic and her mother, M’Lynn, is protective of her. Normality is very important to Shelby.

“She doesn’t want diabetes to stop her from doing anything she wants to do with her life. Her and her mother’s friends, and the women of the town know this, and it’s just part of what life is.”

Although Steel Magnolias has six main characters, the BNT cast includes understudies who have all been guaranteed performance time on stage.

The show’s audition process was run virtually, and rehearsals began online. Over the past few weeks, the cast has been able to “put the show on its feet” and get into a rehearsal space together, interacting, moving around, and working with props.

“Engaging with live theatre and to be around other performers again has been such a beautiful opportunity,” French said.

BNT will stage six performances of Steel Magnolias from their gala night on Saturday, 4 December, until the following weekend. Visit bit.ly/3niGVuL to purchase tickets.