Actors reflect on their roles in Clarksville production of 'Steel Magnolias'

This summer, beat the heat and come on down to Truvy's beauty shop, where the motto is "there is no such thing as natural beauty" and all the ladies who are "anybody" come to have their hair done.  

Robert Harling's stage hit Steel Magnolias is now playing at the Roxy Regional Theatre. Directed by Ryan Bowie, the beloved comedy-drama which inspired the 1989 film starring Dolly Parton, Julia Roberts, Sally Field, Shirley MacLaine, Olympia Dukakis and Daryl Hannah centers on the bond among a group of six Southern women at a small-town beauty shop in northwest Louisiana. 

Jama Bowen, who has previously appeared on the Roxy Regional Theatre stage as Dr. Ruth Westheimer in Becoming Dr. Ruth, Bloody Mary in South Pacific, Rosie in The Wedding Singer, Madame Thenardier in Les Miserables and a number of other productions, dispenses shampoos and free advice as the vivacious, wisecracking beauty shop owner, Truvy Jones.  

"Truvy represents most American women," Bowen said about her character.  "She works all day to earn a paycheck, then goes home to cook, clean and take care of her husband and kids. Yet, no matter how much stress is simmering below the surface, she always has a smile and positive outlook.  I am honored to portray this strong woman so many of us identify with." 

Helping out as her eager new assistant, Annelle Dupuy (who is not sure whether or not she is still married), is Emily Rourke.  As a company veteran, Rourke has performed in numerous Roxy productions, including The Awesome '80s Prom (Whitley Whitaker, The Head Cheerleader), The Taming of the Shrew (Bianca), On the Town (Ivy Smith) and The Cat in the Hat (Sally), and she has brought her technical expertise, choreography experience and directorial skills to countless others.

Like the rest of the cast, Rourke holds fond memories of Steel Magnolias.  "I grew up watching the movie and being blown away by the incredible performances by each of the six main women.  Add to that being born and raised in the South -- and the fact that I know at least one person personally who is just like each of these characters -- and this show has long been on my bucket list to tackle."

Ashley Harris, who returns to the Roxy following appearances as Sandy in 2014's Grease, Fantine in Les Miserables, Janet in 2013's The Rocky Horror Show, Myrtle in The Great Gatsby and many others, plays Shelby Eatenton, the "prettiest girl in town" who is about to marry a "good ole boy." 

"While men are certainly talked about in Truvy's beauty shop, they never set foot on stage," Harris notes.  "Yet, Steel Magnolias is a love story.  But rather than focusing on romantic love, it explores the equally profound love that exists between mothers and daughters, neighbors and friends." 

She adds, "Too often in today's world we see the petty ugliness of women tearing each other down. Steel Magnolias reminds us -- as women and as humans -- to lift each other up."

Local attorney Stacy Turner, who appeared as Shelby in the Roxy's 1990 production of Steel Magnolias, treads the boards this time around as Shelby's mother and local social leader, M'Lynn.  Turner has been involved in countless shows since the theatre opened in 1983, including Smokey Joe's CafeOn the TownBarnum, Showboat, I Remember Mama, Funny Girl, Damn Yankees, Chess and Cabaret.

The role of everyone's favorite wealthy curmudgeon, Ouiser Boudreaux, is played by Mairzy Yost, who returns to the Roxy Regional Theatre after guest directing last summer's production of Smokey Joe's Cafe.  

"I know who Ouiser is in my bones," Yost says of her character.  "She has made MANY mistakes in her life, but she is a survivor.  Cantankerous, yes, but a marshmallow at bottom.  She calls a spade a spade."  

Yost, also a former instructor of director Ryan Bowie during his undergraduate studies at Frostburg State University in Maryland, notes, "When Ryan asked me to play her, I laughed, because as my student, Ryan frequently accused me of having 'no filter.'"

Linda Speir, whose past Roxy credits include The Crucible, A Streetcar Named Desire, A Tale of Two Cities and many others, brings her innate charm to the character of Miss Clairee Belcher, an eccentric millionaire with a raging sweet tooth.

Filled with hilarious repartee and not a few acerbic but humorously revealing verbal collisions, Steel Magnolias began as writer Robert Harling's beautiful, cathartic memoir about his late sister and grew into this widely beloved play and a popular film about the hope, healing and even humor possible in the midst of heartache.

Performances run July 28 through August 19 on Wednesdays and Thursdays at 7:00pm and Fridays and Saturdays at 8:00pm, with 2:00pm matinees on Saturday, August 5, and Saturday, August 19.

Tickets are $20 (adults) and $15 (ages 13 and under) and may be reserved online at, by phone at (931) 645-7699, or at the theatre during regular box office hours (9:00am to 2:00pm, Monday through Friday, and one hour prior to curtain).  Military, APSU students and CitySaver coupon holders can receive two tickets for the price of one to Wednesday and Thursday performances during the run.




Photo courtesy of Joe Eats World

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