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Magnolias that will Steel your heart
Piedmont College theater group to perform classic story
Piedmont College Theatre will present "Steel Magnolias," today and Sunday at the Swanson Center for Performing Arts and Education at Piedmont College in Demorest. Melissa Rice, bottom left, and Savannah Shelton, bottom right, rehearse scenes from the play with Kate Meents, top left, and Sonya Leckman, top right.

Steel Magnolias

When: 7:30 tonight, 2 p.m. Sunday

Where: Piedmont College's Swanson Center Black Box Theatre

Cost: $10 general admission; $5 students. For reservations call 706-778-8500, ext. 1355,

Actors, their parts: Kate Meents, Theatre Major — Truvy; Sonya Leckman, English Major — Annelle; Melissa Rice, Theatre Major — Shelby; Savanah Shelton, Theatre Major — M'Lynn; Katie Robinson, Theatre Major — Clairee; Britt Hensley, Theatre Major — Ouiser

"If you can't find anything good to say about anybody, come sit by me."

Those lines, famously spoken by the constantly aggravated Ouiser, have made their way to Piedmont College, where students will perform their rendition of the play "Steel Magnolias" tonight and Sunday.

An instant classic, "Steel Magnolias," written by Robert Harling, discusses life's hardships. The title says it all: Magnolias are beautiful and look strong, but are short-lived, much like the portrayal of the characters themselves.

An original off-Broadway play that stole hearts in a 1989 movie, "Steel Magnolias" lives on through the stage.

All are invited to join the girls in Truvy's beauty parlor, where Shelby's love of pink and Ouiser's unforgettable attitude will brighten the stage.

"My students chose to do Steel Magnolias. They felt that this play about the loving relationships between these women (and its universality) is a story they wanted to share," said director John Spiegel, an assistant professor of theater at Piedmont College.

Spiegel, in his second year at Piedmont, says he loves the play for the messages it sends.

"Each of the women represents love in its many forms," he said. "They all hang together when the going gets tough and each has her unique element to add to the mix: Clairee's humor, Truvy's empathy - even Ouiser's caustic stubbornness."

With both comedy and tragedy, "Steel Magnolias" has something for everyone.

"As with any play, the themes are deep and complex (and very much in the eye of beholder), but for me, the play brings to the forefront the love and strength of our friends," Spiegel said. "I used holding hands in a circle as my concept; if everyone is holding on tightly, no one can fall unless everyone falls."

"Steel Magnolias" revolves around characters that face adversity, but overcome it with a light-hearted boldness.

While they meet many obstacles in their relationships, jobs and families, they show audiences that rough times do not have to rule one's life — in fact, once they're over, they can become a blessing.