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Theatre Americana Presents Steel Magnolias

Published on Dec 8, 2022

Set in a fictitious Louisiana town, “Steel Magnolias” is a classic drama comedy written by Robert Harling based on his experience with his sister’s death. 

The Harling play focuses on six women who frequent Truvy’s Beauty Parlor. All good friends and regular customers, the six trade jabs and gossip all the while receiving Truvy’s beauty expertise. 

The classic play was adapted to the big screen in 1989 with a star-studded cast including Julia Roberts, Sally Field, Dolly Parton and Darryl Hannah to name a few. 

Theatre Americana is all set to bring this classic to the Lineage Performing Arts Center stage in Pasadena this December.

“A really beautiful, heartwarming story of how love endures and how courage endures and how people make the choices in life that they make,” Donna Scarantino, President and Artistic Director at Theatre Americana, said. “We don’t always understand why, but I think it’s more about a woman’s choice about how she wants to handle the rest of her life, knowing there is risk involved.

“Steel Magnolias” opens at Truvy’s in-home beauty parlor where a group of women regularly gather. They discuss Shelby’s upcoming wedding to her fiancé, Jackson. The plot covers events the next three years and Shelby’s Type 1 diabetes, and with how the women cope with their conflicts, while remaining friends: Shelby’s decision to have a child despite jeopardizing her health, Clairee’s friendship with the curmudgeon Ouiser, Annelle’s transformation from a shy, anxious newcomer in town to a good-time girl then repentant revival-tent Christian, and Truvy’s relationships with the men in her family. 

Although the main storyline involves Shelby, her mother M’Lynn, and Shelby’s medical battles, the group’s underlying friendship is prominent throughout the drama.

Harling wrote the play based on the family experience after his sister, Susan Harling-Robinson, died in 1985 from diabetic complications after the birth of his namesake nephew and the failure of a family-member donated kidney. 

Following her death, a writer friend advised Harling to write it down to come to terms with the experience. He wrote it originally as a short story to give his nephew an understanding of the child’s deceased mother. The story eventually evolved into a play performed off-Broadway on March 28, 1987, before being adapted for film two years later.

“Actually, it is about six women, this young woman being one of them, and how their friendship and their love and endurance gets them through these difficult times and how they rely on one another to lift them up and help them get through the difficult moments in their lives,” Scarantino said. “It’s a really beautiful, heartwarming story of how love endures, and how courage endures.”

For the Theatre Americana production, Scarantino said the actresses that form the cast are part of an “intergenerational project.”

“There’s a variety of generations in this ensemble,” she said. “The senior actresses give their wisdom and their experience, and the younger actresses give a different perspective on the play. So it’s a beautiful combination of the experience and wisdom with contemporary and different perspectives. They’re all local actresses. Some of them have been doing these for over 30 years.”

Scarantino added that “Steel Magnolias” could very well be a Christmas play – something that people in Pasadena can very much relate to because it’s based on real story, a beautiful story about friendship, love, and courage.

“It’s a true story, and so a lot of the circumstances that happen in this play, the audience can relate to – whether it’s funny, whether it’s heartwarming, whether it’s sad… they can contemplate it,” she said. “They are able to have a very visceral experience with the play, because they’ve probably gone through a lot of these situations. And there’s just a lot of humor in the play, so the audience will definitely laugh through the play. And there’s tears, too.”

Theatre Americana is donating all proceeds of the play to Children’s Hospital LA.

“We’ve always thought that not only are we giving back to the artistic community, we want to be able to collaborate with other non-profits and help support them in the community and the work that they do,” Scarantino said. “And so this is all part of our philanthropic component of Theatre Americana.”

“Steel Magnolias” will be presented on Dec. 16, 17 and 18, at Lineage Performing Arts Center, located at 920 E. Mountain Street in Pasadena.

For tickets, visit

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