‘Steel Magnolias’ begins this week through Albert Lea Community Theatre

Published 11:27 am Tuesday, October 3, 2023

Albert Lea Community Theatre will begin its 58th season on Thursday with “Steel Magnolias,” a popular story of friendship based on the 1980s film with the same name.

Directed by Kris Bartley, the play is set in Truvy’s beauty salon in Louisiana, where all the ladies who are “anybody” come to have their hair done.

“At the heart of the story, it’s about women, their friendship and their love for each other through thick and thin,” Bartley said. “It has comedy, it has tragedy and it has everything in-between pretty much.”

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While the story is set in the South, Bartley said it can translate to whatever state the viewers are in.

“It’s just about friendship and the love these women have for each other,” she said. “They’re beautiful as magnolias and strong as steel.”

This is Bartley’s fourth time directing, as she previously directed “12 Angry Jurors,” “Bedroom Farce” and “Love, Loss and What I Wore” — though she said it is her first time directing since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I really wanted to do this show,” she said. “I love the story, love the movie, love the heart.”

In addition to active Albert Lea Community Theatre actresses Kristi White, Kristan Dye and Lisa Sturtz, the play also features two new actresses to ACT, Heidi Stoltenberg and Tanya Herbst, and Emily Miller is back after a hiatus.

Bartley said Stoltenberg’s husband is on the board and her son has done shows before, and she has previously helped with makeup and provided support as a doctor if needed.

“It’s her first time on stage since the ’90s,” Bartley said.

Tanya Herbst is new to the community and has done theater previously but also not for many years, the director said.

She said the women have come together in their roles, noting that rehearsals have been a joy with many shared stories and laughs.

“The friendship you see on stage is real,” she said.

The women started preparing for the show at the end of August and have gotten together most evenings in the weeks since.

She recommended the show for anyone over 14 based on parent’s discretion, as the play does have some adult themes.

“If people want to laugh, if they want to cry all in the same show, come see the show,” Bartley said. “It has something for pretty much everyone.”

She noted while the play does have tragedy, the show ends on a positive note.

“Steel Magnolias” will be performed at the Marion Ross Performing Arts Center in downtown Albert Lea on Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday, as well as Oct. 11, 12, 13 and 14. Shows start at 7:30 p.m., with the Sunday matinee, at 2 p.m.

Tickets are $15 for adults and $10 for students. Tickets may be purchased over the phone by calling 877-730-3144 (service fees apply), online at actonbroadway.com or at the box office. Tickets also are for sale at the Albert Lea Convention & Visitors Bureau. ACT season tickets can be purchased until Oct. 14. More information on tickets and box office hours is on the ACT website.