Staying stronger than steel
BRECKENRIDGE – There is something familiar about the Backstage Theatre’s latest production. Portrayed on film and stage since 1987, “Steel Magnolias” is Robert Harling’s true story based on the event of his sister’s death. And the network of women, who stay connected through visits to Truvy’s Beauty Salon, are coming together again to tell the story in Breckenridge.Former Backstage artistic director (from 1990-98) Wendy Moore returns to her old stomping grounds to direct the all-female play. Moore lived in Breck for 20 years before moving to the Glenwood Springs area for a principal job. Moore is now retired from education, but more active than ever in the theater community, directing and acting in plays in Summit County as well as Aspen, Fort Collins and Glenwood Springs. Yet she has found something entirely unique in her latest Breck endeavor – acting in a play she is directing.Moore said her perspectives often split between the story line of the entire play and the story line of her character, Ouiser.”When I’m on stage I’m trying to imagine what it looks like from the front,” she said. But meanwhile doesn’t let it get in the way of her fun role. “I love saying these outrageous things on stage,” she said.
Along with Moore, the cast includes Murphy Funkhouser as Truvy, Jacqueline Lies as Annelle, BJ Knapp as Clairee, Pamela Evans as Shelby and Wanda Creen as M’Lynn.Evans, who plays Shelby, moved to Summit County from the South only a little over a year ago, and her true accent helps place this play directly in Chinquapin, La. She said she can relate to, and testify to the accurateness, of many of the “Southernisms” throughout the play.”I can laugh because in the South people really do those silly things – like armadillo cakes,” she said.Funkhouser and Lies, who play hair stylists Truvy and Annelle, had the special challenge of first learning to do hair before taking on their characters.
“I feel for the people who work in a hair salon now,” Lies said, noting that with all the talking that happens at a beauty salon, she wonders how they can keep a person’s hair still.The set includes four salon chairs as well as all the clutter that is often found in a beauty shop. There is also running electricity for the curling irons and running water for the shampoo station.”Three of the women actually have their hair done,” Moore said. The play presents a series of moments that often walk the fine line between laughter and tears. And according to Evans, the written relationships of the characters were not limited to the set.
“We created our own ‘Steel Magnolias,’ she said.”For female actresses, it is such a wonderful show to have the opportunity to do,” Moore said.Leslie Brefeld can be reached at 668-4626 or firstname.lastname@example.org.