After presenting two highly successful seasons of Educating Rita last year, IpSkip Productions are about to open their second production, Robert Harling’s Steel Magnolias for a strictly limited season at The Bakehouse this week.
People will probably know the story set in a Southern American beauty salon from its famous 1989 film adaptation starring Sally Field, Dolly Parton, Shirley MacLaine, Daryl Hannah, Olypia Dukakis and Julia Roberts. The upcoming Adelaide production is directed by IpSkip’s founder, Nathan Quadrio and features a line up of great Adelaide community theatre actors: Lisa Simonetti (Beauty and the Beast, Flower Children), Rose Vallen (The Producers, Pippin), Cate Rogers (Death of A Salesman, Holy Day), Julie Quick (All My Sons, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf), Georgia Broomhall (Fame, Catch Me If You Can) and Casmira Hambledon (Violet, Les Miserable and the upcoming Monty Python’s Spamalot).
Glam Adelaide managed to catch up with Cate Rogers to chat about the play and various aspects of the production.
B.G.: Hi Cate. Firstly, could you tell us a little about yourself? In particular, your acting experience.
C.R.: I have been kicking around amateur theatre since school and uni. I have had a lovely long association with the University of Adelaide Theatre Guild with more recent roles including Nora Ryan in ”Holy Day”, Nurse in “Romeo and Juliet” and Lorna James in “The Effect”. Last year I also had the pleasure of acting with Therry as Linda in “Death of a Salesman”.
B.G.: How would you describe your character and her relationship to the story and the other characters?
C.R.: The action all takes place in a home hairdressing salon in the American South in the late 80s/early 90s. My character is M’Lynn Eatenton – all the characters have fabulous names!. She is mother to Shelby, a headstrong and upfront young woman whose journey really drives the narrative. Shelby has health issues that make M’Lynn very protective of her but Shelby refuses to be cossetted and demands to live life on her own terms. Shelby is full-throttle and while M’Lynn would probably like to think as herself as more restrained she’s actually not backward in coming forward with her opinions on Shelby’s choices so they spark off each other a fair bit even though they love each other fiercely.
M’Lynn is long-term friends with all other older women in the play, they’ve been supporting each other through the highs and lows of life for many years. The other youngster of the piece is Annelle, new in town at the beginning of the play but she too finds her place amongst the women as the play progresses.
B.G.: What attracted you to the role of M’Lynn?
C.R.: The fruity Southern dialogue for sure! The bonds of love and friendship between the women. The challenging dynamic between Shelby and M’Lynn and the issues they face together. The fun opportunity of being an old am-dram slapper getting to work with a company of fresh-faced young’uns like IpSkip!
B.G.: Tell us about working with the rest of the cast and being directed by Nathan
C.R.: The cast are a top bunch of gals, all very positive, talented and giving. I had already seen great work from Julie Quick (Clairee) and Rose Vallen (Ouiser) so was delighted to be working with them. Casmira Hambledon (Shelby), Lisa Simonetti (Truvy) and Georgia Broomhall (Annelle) share bonds from musical theatre, an Adelaide world I’m a bit tangential to – I’m no triple threat! – so they were all new to me and now I’m wishing I’d seen more local musicals to see them in action. It’s been a joy to see them all putting their individual stamp on the very strong, idiosyncratic characters Robert Harling has written.
Our tyro young leader Nathan is clearly not intimidated directing people more than twice his age and that’s a good thing. We’ve always had a crisp, clear idea of what he wants from each character. The rehearsal room has been a nice mix of informality and getting down to business.
Credit must also go to Hannah Tulip our stage manager. She and Nathan are hard-working close collaborators and we feel very supported by them both.
B.G.: Is there anything that you would like to add?
C.R.: Just that many people will know “Steel Magnolias” as the famous Hollywood movie that has endured as a favourite for nearly thirty years. I think our show is a great opportunity to come and experience the original play from which the movie sprang, and re-visit some quite iconic characters in a fresh way. And if someone hasn’t seen the movie then they’re in for a completely new treat, a warm and lively piece with its fair share of dramatic twists.
Steel Magnolias opens this coming Wednesday, 10 Jan 8pm at The Bakehouse Theatre, and then Thurs 11 Jan, Fri 12 Jan and Sat 13 Jan all at 8pm, with a 2pm matinee on the Saturday. Tickets are $18. Bookings can be made by clicking here.
Interview by Brian Godfrey