Journeying all the way from the land of film, theater, and all things drama, six diverse women from LA Theater Works will bring to life a production of Robert Harling’s “Steel Magnolias” in Markel Auditorium Tuesday, Feb. 5.
A play set primarily in a beauty shop, “Steel Magnolias” explores how the eccentricities and securities of friendship lend meaning to both the comedies and tragedies of life. The plot sprawls across the lives of six colorful women in Louisiana, as they experience together weddings, babies, and love, and as they combat illness and deflating updos. The plot focuses particularly on M’Lynn and her daughter Shelby, as they battle Shelby’s diabetes together and ultimately refuse to accept the limitations that the disease places on her life.
LA Theater Works is unique in that it does radio drama, both staged and recorded, and “Steel Magnolias” will not be put on in typical play fashion. The actresses will be standing around microphones for the majority of the play, acting through voice, expression and body language. Through these recordings, LA Theater Works have made it their mission to deliver world-class theater to a uniquely widespread set of listeners.
Actress Inger Tudor, who plays M’Lynn, said that she finds this type of acting uniquely challenging and engaging.
“The way its staged, we are at microphones and we face straight out to audience. So you have to imagine the reactions that you’re getting from other actors,” Tudor said. “You can hear it from their voice, but you have to imagine what their facial expression is. You have to stay so focused and really listen harder than you have to do in any other type of performing. The second your mind wanders, it become obvious on your face.”
Tudor explained why this role was particularly fulfilling for her.
“What I really like about M’Lynn, is that she is a career woman, who has got a daughter who all of her life has diabetes. So as a mom she has always been protective,” Tudor said. “But at the same time her daughter wants to do all these different things, and live her life, and of course she wants her to do that. So I like the challenge of playing that type of role.”
Hillsdale College Chairman of Theater and Dance James Brandon, as always, said that he is excited for both the Hillsdale community in general, and theater students specifically, to see this production.
“There is not a lot of professional theater happening in Hillsdale County. It is important for our audience to see work that’s not locally grown, to see work from the outside world,” Brandon said. “I think it’s most important for our students, especially the ones studying the field to see and get to meet and work with professionals.”