The Herald, Sharon, Pa.

Local News

July 18, 2014

GACT’s ‘Steel Magnolias’ opens tonight at Thiel

GREENVILLE — Beauty parlor gossip, southern drawls and big hair may sound out of place for Mercer County, but it’s very much a real scene in Thiel College’s William Robinson Theater.

Director Alan Stevens handles everything from finding the right curlers to wardrobe changes.

“This is the play I never knew I wanted,” Stevens said.

The Greenville Area Community Theater will be presenting “Steel Magnolias” throughout the next two weeks.

The play centers around six women and their friendships. Main character Shelby, played by Sarah Puhala, faces marriage, motherhood and a life-long illness.

“You laugh, you cry, then you’re crying while you’re laughing,” Stevens summed up.

While some references from the 1980s play have been updated, the comedy-drama is still set in a southern, tight-knit community.

“It’s so real,” Maria Petrella-Ackley, who plays Clairee, said. “We want people to think they’re in Truvy’s with us.”

Truvy, portrayed by Vicki Cousley, owns a beauty shop that sits as the hub for the ladies.

Actualizing the play, the cast really has bonded.

“We’re like a little family,” Puhala said.

Those relationships are what have made the biggest impact on the group.

“It’s been fabulous,” Belinda Wilson, playing Ouiser, said. “The interaction with the six of us has just been wonderful.”

And while audiences can expect laughs from shot guns and hair spray – staples to any traditional southern belle wedding – the seriousness of Shelby’s disease, type 1 diabetes, wasn’t lost on GACT.

“I’ve tried to tap into what it was to her,” Puhala said.

Jane Turcic, house manager, said that GACT members reached out to UPMC Horizon, Greenville, which will be supplying flyers and brochures to raise awareness of type 1 at the performances.

“We want to pay attention to the fluff, but also the serious side of the show,” Turcic said.

In line with the theme, GACT also got four beauty shops to sponsor the shows, The Girls Next Door, Lin’s Tresses & Treasure, Cristal’s Creative Cuts and Rock. Paper. Shears.

Performances are today, Saturday and Sunday, and July 25, July 26, July 27. Friday and Saturday performances are at 8 p.m., Sunday performances at 3 p.m. Tickets sold at the door, $15 for adults, $12 for seniors and $10 for students.

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