Poster for "steel magnolias" play featuring white flowers on a purple background, with event details including dates and location.

Steel Magnolias

June 27 – 30, Canady Creative Arts Center

“Steel Magnolias” is a touching dramedy filled with colorful women, hilarious repartee and verbal collision sure to move and entertain audiences. These complex Southern women, described by the playwright as “delicate as magnolias but as tough as steel,” navigate good times and bad together at Truvy’s beauty salon.

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The Playwright

Playwright – Robert Harling

Robert Harling made his directorial debut with The Evening Star for Paramount, which he also wrote for the screen based on Larry McMurty’s novel. The Evening Star reunited Shirley MacLaine and Jack Nicholson and co-stars Juliette Lewis, Bill Paxton, Scott Wolf, Miranda Richardson, and Marion Ross. The Evening Star is the continuation of one of the most beloved and acclaimed movies of our time, Terms of Endearment. Before launching a successful stage and screenwriting career, Robert graduated from Tulane University School of Law, but instead of taking the bar exam, he opted to become an actor in New York. After years of productive work as an actor in voiceovers and commercials, Harling was inspired to write the highly acclaimed stage play Steel Magnolias, which was based on events from his personal life. Steel Magnolias continues to thrive in theatrical productions throughout the world. Immediately bridging a career from stage to screen, Harling adapted his original play into the popular film of the same title, which starred Sally Field, Julia Roberts, Shirley MacLaine, Olympia Dukakis, Dolly Parton, and Daryl Hannah. Over the years, Mr. Harling has become a much sought-after screenwriter: other credits, to name a few, include Soapdish, which was based on Harling’s acting experience and starred Sally Field, Whoopi Goldberg, and Robert Downey Jr., and First Wives Club for Paramount, starring Bette Midler, Goldie Hawn, and Diane Keaton.

The Cast

A woman with curly brown hair and a slight smile poses against a plain white background. She is wearing a black top.

Truvy – Brianne Taylor

Brianne Taylor: Assistant Professor of Voice at UMKC // voice & dialect coach // director // performer.

Her solo show Keeper of the Plains is an exploration of the femme voices of the masculine, agricultural dominated American Great Plains. She has performed professionally at The Contemporary American Theater Festival, with various companies in Washington, DC, and has taken her solo show to LA and fringe festivals nation-wide. She has coached dialects with WVPT before and is thrilled to be performing with them! Much love to my boys: Josh, Ezra, and Arden -xoxo


Annelle – Sophia Kenol

Sophia Kenol is an actor, writer and director based in NYC. She attended William Esper Studio’s two-year program in Manhattan where she received a certificate in acting. She has appeared in numerous commercials, professional sketch comedy shows, theatrical productions across the Eastern United States including Atlanta, DC, Miami, and NYC as well as multiple independent short films. Sophia spent January and February in Miami as a leading role in the hit play The Girls of Summer at the M Ensemble Company. She is super excited for her debut with the West Virginia Public Theatre. 

Clairee – Shanel Riley

Shanel Riley is a New York City based performer making her stage debut! She has appeared in commercials for Dr. Miracles, Carol’s Daughter, Comedy Central and was recently featured in Murder Under the Friday Night Lights, The Murder Tapes, (ID Channel) and costarred in the award winning independent film Breathe. BFA Brooklyn College. Raised by one amazing single mom. Mark 11:24-25

Shelby – Amanda McGovern

Amanda McGovern (Shelby Eatenton-Latcherie) is a senior BFA Acting Major at West Virginia University. Amanda is excited to work with WVPT for the second time after her involvement in the workshop production of I Want to Know What Love Is. Her WVU credits include Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella (Fairy Godmother), Ride the Cyclone (Ocean O’Connell Rosenburg), Bright Star (Margo Crawford)and Carrie: The Musical (Chris Hargensen)Amanda would like to thank WVPT for the opportunity to be a part of this beautiful story!

M’Lynn – Tracy Hyland

Regional stage credits include Chicago Shakespeare Theater (Winter’s Tale), ACT Contemporary Theatre (Eurydice, A Christmas Carol); Seattle Shakespeare Company (MacbethHamletWinter’s TaleBring Down the House); and Book-It Repertory Theatre (What We Talk About When We Talk About Love, Anna Karenina, Rhoda: A Life in Stories). Film appearances include Ira Finkelstein’s Christmas and the cult hit Dark Dungeons. Originally from Pittsburgh and a coal miner’s daughter to boot, Tracy is beyond thrilled to make her West Virginia Public Theatre debut. 

**This actor appears through the courtesy of Actor’s Equity Association, the Union of Professional Actors and Stage Managers in the United States.**

Ouiser – Carol Halstead

Carol has worked on and off Broadway and in regional theatre throughout the US. Most recently she played Margaret Quinn in the world premiere adaptation of Elin Hilderbrand’s Winter Street, Martha in Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf, Lady Bracknell in The Importance of Being Earnest, and the national tour of C.S. Lewis’s The Great Divorce. Carol lives in NYC where she trains as a 4th degree black belt in Seido Karate. She is a graduate of F.S.U. and American Conservatory Theatre.
TV: Madame Secretary, Elementary, Law & Order.
Upcoming films: Books& Drinks, Damages & Collisions


**This actor appears through the courtesy of Actor’s Equity Association, the Union of Professional Actors and Stage Managers in the United States.**

The Creative Team

Director: Jane Jones

Scenic Designer: Steve Sawicki

Steve is excited to be joining West Virginia Public Theatre as scenic designer for Steel Magnolias.  Steve currently serves as Technical Director, Scenic Designer, and Educator with the St. Paul’s Schools in Brooklandville, Maryland.  Recent design work includes Radium GirlsThe PromCurtains, and Tartuffe with St. Paul’s.  Steve served as Technical Director at High Point University in High Point, NC, where he oversaw construction and installment of the musical Working!Something Wicked This Way Comes, and Time: Like Water on the HPU campus.

Costume Designer: Trace Swisher

Trace Swisher (he/him) is a Senior BFA Theatre Design & Technology and BSJ Advertising and Public Relations dual major with concentrations in Costume Design & Public Relations at West Virginia University. Some of his recent works include Anatomy of a Suicide (Costume Designer), Carrie: The Musical (Asst. Costume Designer), Interdimensional Channel SurfingWright Place Wrong Time and For Whom the Southern Belle Tolls (Director / Production Designer).

Lighting Designer: Mike McGinley

Michael M. McGinley is a staff member of the WVU College of Creative Arts Production and Facilities Office, and an MFA Candidate in Lighting Design and Technology in the School of Theatre and Dance. He is glad to be joining WVPT this season as Season Electrical Supervisor and as Lighting Designer for Steel Magnolias. Michael’s most recent designs for WVU are Dance Now! 24, and Anatomy of a Suicide. Michael would like to thank Sarah, his wife, partner, and best friend. Without her, he would not be able to do any of this.   

Sound Designer: Elise Lein

Elise Lein is a second-year theater tech and design student at WVU with a focus in sound engineering and design. This is her second year working with WVPT, but her first as a Designer. She is excited to bring her designs to life. Her design work with the school includes Cinderella and Book of Will. She hopes to work in theater or College Humor and thanks the entire production team for welcoming her to their world. 

Stage Manager: Aubrey I. Sirtautas

Aubrey Sirtautas holds a B.A. in Computer Science from Rice University and an MFA in Stage and Production Management from Carnegie Mellon University. She has worked as a stage manager for the Contemporary American Theatre Festival, Weston Playhouse Theatre, Broadway Project, Broadway Workshop, and Geva Theatre Center. Aubrey also worked in non-traditional theatrical environments, including Cirque du Soleil’s Mystére, Dick Clark Productions’ Billboard Music AwardsThe Academy of Country Music Awards, and opera productions of Cendrillon and Rinaldo. She is a member of Actors’ Equity Association and focuses her academic research and professional committee efforts on Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion.

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