When “Steel Magnolias,” produced by Playhouse 615 at Mt. Juliet, opens on Friday, August 13, the cast will be filled with not-average actors playing the various roles.
Abby Waddoups, who plays Annelle, started acting when she was a child.
“In my late twenties, I retired from performing for several years to focus on teaching and directing,” she said. “I only recently came back on stage here at Playhouse 615. It’s like going back to my first love.
Actress Tiffany Burleson Vinson plays Truvy. She hasn’t been on stage for about 12 years.
“Essentially, it was COVID that inspired me to come back,” she said. “Something about the isolation and closure of our society and our artistic community made me realize that I couldn’t take for granted that he would be there when I was ready. I had to go back now. I missed the camaraderie and magic of being a part of the theater.
Actress playing Clairee, Brenda Brannon, made her reappearance on stage in the recent Playhouse 615 production of “Run For Your Wife”. The last time she was on stage was in 1998. She also worked in numerous shows at Opryland USA in the 1970s.
“There really was no gap between Opryland and the theater right away,” said Brannon. “From the mid to late 1980s, I participated in local theater productions.
She has worked with Circle Players, Lakewood Theater and Backstage Studio over the years. After recently retiring from her day job, she said: “One of my main wishes after retirement was to return to acting, and here I am.”
Diane Enright, who plays Ouir, studied theater with Ruth Sweet, a nationally recognized theater teacher, who founded The Acting Studio and The Acting Conservatory in 1985 in Nashville.
Shelby-playing actress Mary Molly Storey studied acting at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York City.
“After living in New York City for almost 10 years, I came back to Nashville and was ready to join the theater community,” she said.
Due to COVID, all show opportunities have been closed. Then, when she saw the notice of hearing for Steel Magnolias, she decided to audition. She did and said, “When I went there I had absolutely no idea that I would be chosen to play Shelby and only read for her once.”
Playhouse 615 general manager Ann Street-Kavanagh has performed every role on the show during her career, with the exception of Annelle and M’Lynn, who she stars in that production.
“It’s been a lot of fun playing Shelby, Truvy, Ouiser and now M’Lynn,” Street-Kavanagh said, noting that she started playing roles on the show around 30 years ago. “It’s definitely a show that’s going to be just as popular 30 years from now as it was 30 years ago, I think. It is a message of healing, of heartbreak, of good times and of women standing together and lifting each other up with laughter and tears.
“Steel Magnolias,” written by Robert Harding, is her real-life experience of the connection between a group of women in a small town in northern Louisiana, and how they face challenges and grief with humor and tears.