Marc Buckhout/The Foothills Focus
Starlight Theater’s production of Steel Magnolias kicks off at 7 p.m. Friday in the Safeway Center, Suite B115 at 3655 W. Anthem Way in Anthem. To view more photos from a Jan. 16 rehearsal of Steel Magnolias go to facebook.com/thefoothills.focus.
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Starlight Theater brings Steel Magnolias to Anthem

MARC BUCKHOUT ~ MANAGING EDITOR~ 1/23/2013

Six women from various walks of life are drawn together as they deal with a spectrum of issues ranging from the mundane gossip of small town life to the most impactful any of us deal with in a story about love, loss, friendship and trust in Starlight Community Theater's production of Steel Magnolias.
The show, originally written by Robert Harling as a tribute to the life of his sister Susan Harling Robinson, eventually became a box office hit at the movie theater as the story drew Hollywood stars such as Sally Field, Shirley MacLaine, Dolly Parton and was a launching point for the career of Julia Roberts.
The main differences between the play and the movie that came later are that the play's only setting is the barber shop and the six women are the sole actors in the play.
“It's well written, with bold characters,” said Kristen Williams, who plays the character Shelby. “There's a great camaraderie amongst the characters even though they deal with the suffering that occurs in life. It's a captivating story.”
The story takes place in a Louisiana beauty salon, called Truvy's.
While the show examines all six women's lives at different times it centers on Shelby, who begins the show by talking about getting married.
Shelby's mom, M'Lynn, played by Linda Wolfe, is forever concerned with her daughter's battle with diabetes, an issue that becomes more pronounced later in the play when Shelby and her husband decide they want to have a baby.
“My character watches her daughter like a hawk,” Wolfe said. “I'm not nearly as controlling as a mother, but given the circumstances you can understand it.”
Wolfe, who has been an actor throughout her life, recently moved to Arizona, taking up residence in Glendale. She said upon searching for a new theater to perform with she came across Starlight.
She said she hasn't been disappointed in her choice.
“This is such a talented ensemble cast,” she said. “You feel from them what you need. They've all been very supportive. The continuity and chemistry has grown as we've worked together.”
Jenna Spets, who plays Annelle, said she was anxious to work with director Barbara Surloff again.
“I've learned a lot working with her,” said the Anthem resident, who will be performing in her third Starlight production.
Initially Annelle is the outsider of the group, as the new hairstylist from out of town, but she quickly works her way into the group after revealing that her husband has left her.
“She's just outrageous,” Spets said. “She's quirky, weird, just very uncomfortable.”
 And as quirky as Spets character is Laura Carroll of Anthem's Arroyo Grande plays an equally distinct character, as Ouiser.
After working as a stage manager in a previous Starlight show, one in which her daughter performed, Carroll said she was drawn to be on stage for Steel Magnolias.
“There was only one character I wanted to be,” she said. “I like performing funny roles and I definitely get the chance with her. She's old and grumpy and a little bit intimidating. I like the first scene I'm in best. She's a little {ticked} off and goes on a pretty good rant.”
Despite being an all women cast the actors believe it has an appeal for both sexes.
“There's definitely a lot of estrogen in the show, but it's very funny,” Williams said. “I don't think it matters whether you're a woman or a man you'll have a lot of laughs at this show.”
Overall the show will take the audience on an emotional roller coaster.
“My character tries to take care of everyone,” Williams said. “She's endearing and warm, like a typical southern woman, but she tries to take care of everyone at the expense of her own health. At the end you see her more mature and she works to repairs her relationship with her mother. At the end my character is facing a kidney transplant and I'm stepping away and I say I love you all. It's a beautiful scene.”
The show debuts at 7 p.m., Friday. Performances continue with two shows on Saturday, Sunday, Feb. 1, Feb. 2, Feb. 8, Feb. 9 and Feb. 10. Evening shows are at 7 p.m. with some matinees at 2 p.m.
The show takes place in the Safeway Center, Suite B115 at 3655 W. Anthem Way in Anthem. Tickets can be purchased at starlightcommunitytheater.org. Tickets are $12 for children and $15 for adults.