Live theater returns to the Ti-Ahwaga Performing Arts Center Feb. 17 through March 5 as the Ti-Ahwaga Community Players present Robert Harling’s comedy-drama, “Steel Magnolias.”
A total of nine performances are scheduled during the run, with 8 p.m. shows on Fridays and Saturdays, and afternoon shows on Sundays at 2 p.m. Subsequent performances will be on February 18, 19, 24, 25 and 26, and March 3, 4 and 5.
Inspired by Harling’s sister, who died from Type 1 diabetes complications in 1985, the story is set in northwestern Louisiana, and evolves around the bond between six women. The character’s vulnerabilities are explored, and ultimately how they all cope following the death of one in their group. The play’s title is said to be a metaphor suggesting that the characters are as delicate as a magnolia, yet strong as steel.
Director Shawn Yetter, Assistant Director Shawn Smith, and Producer Chris Pellicano welcome the community to step out and relax for an evening or afternoon of live theater performed by local talent.
The 156 seat cabaret-style seating arrangement features tables set up for two or four people, and Yetter made mention, “There is not a bad seat in the house.”
Unlike the 1989 film adaptation or other versions, Yetter noted that the play takes place only within the setting of Truvy’s Beauty Salon, and features six main characters.
Yetter, and directing the play for a second time, remarked, “At its heart, the story is about enduring friendships and new friendships, and how they lift us up and support us during good times and bad.”
Yetter made mention of the first performance of “Steel Magnolias,” and remarked, “We performed it at the Owego Treadway Inn in 1995, and we were still just a group of ‘vagabonds’ traveling from location to location.”
It’s at the beauty salon where the group of six women regularly gathers for conversation, advice, and gossip. The likeable characters face the ups and downs of life experiences and tested relationships, which, in turn, strengthens their interminable bond.
Yetter noted that run time is about 90 minutes, and includes one intermission. Refreshments will be available for purchase during the show.
The cast, previously announced in December, began meeting in early January for rehearsals.
Christina Taylor, who has appeared in many Ti-Ahwaga productions, takes on the role of Truvy. Her credits include “Grease” and “Oklahoma,” to name a few, and she is a regular member of vocal ensembles in Ithaca and the Southern Tier.
Kylee Thetga will perform the role of Annelle, and previously participated in Ti-Ahwaga’s summer youth programs. Thetga’s recent roles include the productions of “Pippin,” and “A Streetcar Named Desire.”
Linda Fenescey will play the character Clairee, and has been involved in numerous productions over the years including as a director, and in such classics as “To Kill A Mockingbird” and “A Christmas Story,” to name a few.
Julia Adams, cast in the role as Shelby, debuted at Ti-Ahwaga in “Sister Act,” and along with multiple other roles, is a costume coordinator and designer for many local theaters in the area.
Jessica Pullis makes her Ti-Ahwaga debut as the character, M’Lynn. Pullis has performed locally at the Cider Mill Playhouse, EPAC, and more, and in such productions as “Annie” and “The Importance of Being Earnest.”
Amy Gilbert will portray the character, Ouiser. In addition to performing in several Southern Tier shows like “Sister Act” and “Death Trap,” Gilbert is a published author of suspense and mystery novels.
Both Yetter and Pellicano have been involved with Ti-Ahwaga since the mid-to-late 1980’s. Yetter’s vast experience includes that as an actor, director, producer and board member.
Pellicano wears the producer hat for this production, and takes on the role of consultant, along with handling technical aspects.
Smith, who has been involved with Ti-Ahwaga since 2013, has over 16 years of theater experience in both actor and director roles, and is taking on the role of assistant director for the first time with this production.
Accompanying production team members include Stage Manager Dierdre Nolis, and in various set roles are Corrine O’Leary, Diane Arbes, Linda Fenescey, Amy Gilbert, Laura Kensley, Lauren Kensley, Julia Adams, Becky Shuey, Angelique Ortiz-Kane, Jan Nolis, and Ryan Canavan.
The Ti-Ahwaga Community Players is a non-profit incorporated in 1960, and in 2001 opened the doors to its permanent home.
The dedicated theater group thanks their supporters and the community, and especially for keeping theater alive in Owego.
The Ti-Ahwaga Performing Arts Center is located at 42 Delphine St. in Owego, N.Y. Tickets are available on-line at www.tiahwaga.com, or by calling the box office at (607) 687-2130.