Put together a top local cast, flash new lights and lighting board, an amazingly talented support crew and a new director Davina Graham thoroughly enjoying the experience of bringing her dream to fruition and it is not surprising bookings are filling up for the Dannevirke Theatre Company's production of Steel Magnolias.

Salon owner Truvy Jones consoles beauty shop assistant Annelle Dupuy-Desoto on her first day at work.
Salon owner Truvy Jones consoles beauty shop assistant Annelle Dupuy-Desoto on her first day at work.

The movie when it came out featured the crème de la crème of Hollywood actresses Sally Field, Julia Roberts, Dolly Parton and Shirley McLaine all attracted by this powerful narrative – Julia Roberts gaining her first Oscar nomination as Shelby.

Expect similar strong performances from Dannevirke's cast with as much local experience as the stars had Hollywood experience. Josie Robertson, Tania MacKay, Kirsten Selfe, Sue Giddens, Michelle Walker and Lucy Mavin have decades of experience as will become perfectly evident in the first scene.

The bride Shelby is excited on the day of her wedding.
The bride Shelby is excited on the day of her wedding.

Add to these ladies, support crew with great expertise – Les Giddens building the set, Melanie Silver decorating it, Joy Murdoch as wardrobe mistress, Peter Sinclair as stage manager, Tracey Sinclair the all-important makeup and hair specialist, Elijah Graham and Shaun Newell on light and sound – the list goes on.

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Great effort has gone into providing 80s furniture and props – even though it was only 40 years ago it is not easy to find them from that era.

Taking place in a hair salon there has been huge help for product from Dannevirke Pharmacy and the Dannevirke hair salons. New Vision Hair and Day Spa has provided a $300 hair straightener which will be raffled and three other businesses have sponsored advertising while NZ Natural Clothing has donated $300.

The story itself has highs and lows of emotion; "A comedy which makes you cry" as one reviewer commented but it has philosophy born of experience which both amuses and provokes thought.

Truvy says, "I have a strict philosophy that I have stuck to for 15 years …There is no such thing as natural beauty," and Shelby says, "I love cloudy days. On cloudy days I feel God's not trying very hard, so I don't have to either."

Tickets are selling fast from the Dannevirke Information Centre. As of August 3 the first three days of the season are two-thirds booked out.

Tickets cost $25 / adult, $22.50 for students and seniors. The season runs from Thursday-Saturday August 13 to 15 and August 20 to 22 which is a matinee.