Steel Magnolias is firmly set in its place and time. It’s a story told by six women heavily steeped in Southern values and sensibilities living in Louisiana in the 1980s. And yet versions of this famous play have been set on international stages all over the world – Ireland, Japan, Poland, among many others. Director and NASA Video Producer Paul Morris credits its success to playwright Robert Harling’s expert expression of universal themes.
“When we approached this script, we knew this is what most people think of when they hear ‘Steel Magnolias’—ourselves included,” says Morris. “But when we really sat down with the text, and took a closer look at these six colorful women and their stories, we realized there is so much more going on.
“It’s about life, death, and all our yearnings in between. It’s about laughter in the midst of tears. It’s about hope and disappointment and finding some kind of meaning in this crazy existence of ours.” Morris attributes these raw themes with his decision to ultimately strip the show down to its essence, tone down the pink, put it in a “black box,” and focus on the true heartbeat of this story.
Founded in 1970, the Goddard Music and Drama Club has offered theatrical activities to NASA civil servants, contractors, family members, and guests for fifty years. Traditionally MAD produces one large-cast musical in the fall, one small-to-medium-cast play or musical in the winter, and a variety show in the spring. Over the past several years, this schedule has fluctuated a little—some years forgoing a winter show or variety show, some years shifting the winter show to springtime or the spring variety show to summertime.
This year, for the first time in MAD’s fifty-year history, we are mounting two full-scale productions in the first half of the year. The first, this production of Steel Magnolias, offers a few of the women of MAD a chance to sink their teeth into some serious, dramatic acting. MAD did Steel Magnolias once before, back in 1993, and the world is just as much in need of well-written female characters now as it was then.
Central character Truvy Jones delivers one of the most famous quotes in Steel Magnolias: “Laughter through tears is my favorite emotion.” In one breath, it summarizes the spirit of the production by conveying the heaviness of loss, the lightness of friendship, and the love that carries six steel magnolias.
“May we all find this kind of love in our lives,” concludes Morris.
To purchase tickets, please visit madtheater.org Performances will be held on February 28, 29, March 1, 6, 7 and 8 at the NASA Goddard Recreation Center (9998 Goddard Luck Road, Greenbelt, MD). Tickets are $20 in advance and $22 at the door. Join us opening night for a discounted ticket price of $16!