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Lifestyles

August 23, 2013

'Steel Magnolias' a favorite of its director

PITTSBURG, Kan. — Theater director Greg Shaw is once again getting to direct the type of play he loves: A drama with comedic elements, set in the South and featuring a strong cast of female characters.

His most recent directing credits in that genre include "The Dixie Swim Club" and "Crimes of the Heart." This time around, it's a show with which he's familiar. It's also his favorite.

"Steel Magnolias," which Shaw directed in 2005 in his first year in the theater department at Pittsburg High School, will open as a Pittsburg Community Theatre production on Wednesday at Memorial Auditorium.

It comes hot on the heels of one of the most successful runs PCT has produced: "The Wizard of Oz," which had main-floor sell-out shows July 26-29. Auditions for the two productions were held at the same, and Susie Lundy landed key roles in both, which meant memorizing lines for both the Wicked Witch of the West and "Magnolia's" Clairee at the same time.

But Lundy, like the rest of "Magnolia's" cast, is a veteran actress, Shaw said. Adina Sanchez was cast as Truvy, Maggie Stuckey is playing Annelle, Gabby Murnan won the role of Shelby, Shelli Walrod is playing M'Lynn and Faith Paoni was cast as Ouiser.

"The stage version closely follows the storyline of the movie, but the big difference is there's no men in the show," Shaw said.

The 1989 comedy-drama film version also featured a veteran, all-star cast: Sally Field, Dolly Parton, Shirley MacLaine, Daryl Hannah, Olympia Dukakis and Julia Roberts.

"With this group, the chemistry is good," Shaw said of the local cast. "And they're all solid actresses."

Shaw describes "Magnolias" as "a perfectly written relationship play."

"It has funny moments, self-deprecating moments for each character and it has poignant heartbreak," Shaw said. "It also really shows how friends and family take care of one another in the best and worst of times."

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