From Thursday October 28 until Saturday October 30, another predominantly female production will perform on stage at the Holmes Theater. Director Sharon Sinclair is helping her cast of six local women put the finishing touches on a new production of “Steel Magnolias,” the heartwarming comedy-drama that first premiered on a Detroit Lakes stage in 1988.
“We were one of the first community theaters to do this show, anywhere,” Sinclair recalls; herself played the role of M’Lynn in this production.
She added that many other community theater groups in the area, including Fargo-Moorhead, put on their own versions of the show in subsequent seasons, but Detroit Lakes was the first. In fact, the local production was staged a year before the film version was released, in 1989.
“One of our band members, (the late) Jeanne Poehler, had seen it in New York City and thought it would be a show we could do here in Detroit Lakes,” Sinclair said. “So we did it.”
And now, more than a quarter of a century later, she’s bringing it back, along with a few new participants at the local community theater alongside four familiar faces from past shows. “It’s fun to come back to it with this group of talented women,” Sinclair said, adding that she had invited some of the actresses who took part in the production of “12 Passionate Women” in 2019 (which she also directed ) to be part of this show too.
The two youngest cast members, Kalyn Willson and Grace Schulberg, play the roles of Annelle and Shelby respectively. The two young women, both in their early 20s, have both appeared in several fall musicals at Detroit Lakes High School – occasionally, together, while Schulberg graduated in 2016 and Willson, 2018. Les two continued to pursue their love of theater in their college. years and beyond.
Grace Schulberg, left, and Kalyn Willson in a scene from a Tuesday October 19 rehearsal of “Steel Magnolias” at the Historic Holmes Theater in Detroit Lakes. The local community theater production will be presented in three live performances at the theater from October 28-30. (Vicki Gerdes / Tribune)
Indeed, Schulberg will leave Detroit Lakes at the end of this production, to try her luck as an actress in Los Angeles. On November 1, she heads to the West Coast with her partner, Reno Hanson, who hopes to break into the writing scene there.
“We’re going into the same area, but he wants to be behind the camera, and me, in front,” Schulberg said with a smile.
But for now, she added, she is loving the opportunity to perform live on stage again, for the first time in about two years – after returning home to Detroit Lakes during the stoppage of the pandemic, which halted almost all in-person college education opportunities, as well as live theater productions across the country, for more than a year.
“I definitely missed it,” she said while once again being part of a live production.
Shelby, played by Grace Schulberg, center, receives a warm hug from Truvy (Wendy Spry) as Claree (Sharon Josephson) watches fondly in a scene from “Steel Magnolias”. The Detroit Lakes community theater production will perform live at the Historic Holmes Theater from October 28-30. (Vicki Gerdes / Tribune)
Likewise, the pandemic also brought Willson back to Detroit Lakes, after leaving Minnesota after graduating from high school to pursue a BFA at the American Musical and Dramatic Academy (AMDA) in New York City.
“I graduated in February 2020,” said Willson. Although she intended to stay in New York City to pursue all of the many acting opportunities available there, both on stage and in front of a camera, it was around three weeks after graduating that these opportunities started to dry up, almost overnight.
“It was really hard not to go (New York) on my own terms,” she said. “I had a lot of stuff online there, but I had no choice. It all stopped.”
When Willson heard about the production through her mother, hairstylist Shawna Willson, and was recommended for the role by former Holmes Theater arts outreach director Beth Gilbert, she hopped on the ‘opportunity.
“I couldn’t wait to play again,” said Willson. “I hadn’t been in a stage production since my last year in high school.”
It hasn’t been that long since Sheila Welle, Sharon Josephson, Wendy Spry and Kristal Karger, who respectively play the roles of M’Lynn, Claree, Truvy and Oiser. All four of them took part in the Sinclair-directed production in 2019 and were eagerly awaiting a slightly longer show: “12 Passionate Women” premiered for only one night, and they only had a few weeks of rehearsal. . , while this production has been in preparation for several months.
“We’ll be ready,” Karger said of the show’s October 28 debut. “The rehearsals have been good. We are progressing well.”
“It’s a solid cast of women and it’s fun to be on stage with them,” Welle added. “And it’s such a funny and well-written play.”
“But it’s also very sincere,” added Karger, noting that she likes the way her character, Oiser, “puts it the way it is. You just know what you’re getting with her. She’s tough, but she’s also really heartwarming. And she has nice lines. “
Welle said her favorite thing about her character, M’Lynn, was “the love she has for her daughter and her friends.”
“This show will make you go from laughter to tears and back again,” she added.
“It feels like a fly on the wall in the middle of this group of women chatting in a beauty salon,” Karger said. “There’s just that deep connection, with all the fun jokes.”
If you are going to
What: “Steel Magnolias”, a live community theater production.
When: Thursday October 28, 7:30 p.m .; Friday, October 29, 7:30 p.m .; Saturday October 29, 2 p.m.
Or: Historic Holmes Theater, 806 Summit Ave., Detroit Lakes.
How? ‘Or’ What: Tickets cost $ 15 for adults, $ 7.50 for students, and can be purchased online at dlccc.org/holmes-theatre.html, by phone at 218-844-7469, or in person at the Holmes Box Office. , which is open from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesday to Friday as well as two hours before each show.