UTS Backstage’s Steel Magnolias is a must-see

 Image by Sophie-Jaye Hayman, graphics by Geraldine Buzzo, Evie Hilliar and Eva Li.

Image by Sophie-Jaye Hayman, graphics by Geraldine Buzzo, Evie Hilliar and Eva Li.

Based off the stage play by American writer Robert Harling, UTS Backstage’s adaptation captures feminine grit and fragility during the trials and tribulations of life.

While you may know Steel Magnolias by the eponymous 1989 film, which put Julia Roberts on the map with an Oscar nomination and cemented Sally Fields’ thespian talents worldwide, UTS Backstage is channelling its Pamela Berlin Off-Broadway roots and bringing the movie magic to the upcoming Bon Marche Theatre adaptation.

Directed by none other than Gabby Stapleton (Stapo) of UTS Wom*n’s Revue prestige, and produced by second-time star, Olivia Jeavons, this two-hour-long dramatic comedy fusion relies on a cast of six student theatrettes to enrapture the audience with the surprisingly captivating happenings of middle-aged, southern women’s lives – all in the setting of one beauty parlour.

If he’s trying to drive me crazy, it’s too late.
— M’Lynn
 Graphics by Geraldine Buzzo, Evie Hilliar and Eva Li.

Graphics by Geraldine Buzzo, Evie Hilliar and Eva Li.

It goes a lot like this: we’re in Northwest Louisiana in the ‘80s, and it’s Shelby Eatenton’s wedding day. M’Lynn, Annelle, Ouiser and Clairee gather at Truvy’s Beauty Parlour to prepare for the ceremony. What follows is a string of events, centred on love, loss, and life, all of which showcase one truth – female characters are as delicate as magnolias, but as tough as steel.

According to Stapo, it’s this truth that thrills her. “My favourite part of this play is the characters; they are all so full of grit, humour and life, and each one is integral to the story”, she says.

“Watching this cast bring these characters to life has been extraordinary, and the level of understanding and depth they have found within their characters in such a short amount of time blows me away at each rehearsal.”

It’s the energy from the cast, characters and crew, Olivia agrees, that is striking, and emphasises the importance of supporting student theatre – an invaluable springboard for, “young creatives and emerging talent to gain experience and connect with other like-minded artists.”

Stapo says: “There’s nothing quite like working on a student production, it’s a very specific environment and everyone chooses to be there and chooses to work together. The networking I’ve been able to do through student theatre has lead me into various different projects and opportunities, and the friendships I’ve made have been lasting.”

UTS Backstage’s Steel Magnolias is showing from 4 July 2018 – 7 July 2018, at Bon Marche Theatre, UTS. Sessions start at 7pm, and go for two-hours with a 15-minute interval included. Tickets are available here. Find them on Facebook and Instagram.

 Behind the scenes. Supplied by Olivia Jeavons. 

Behind the scenes. Supplied by Olivia Jeavons. 

 Bronte Gossling is a third-year (oh my god, already?!) Journalism/International Studies (Spain) student, who has a penchant for being super organised but is also perpetually late to any and all engagements. Nice.