DENHAM SPRINGS — Toni Bennett, of Denham Springs, waited anxiously Thursday for her turn to read in front of “Steel Magnolia’s” Producer Walt McGrory, Assistant Director Robert Reynolds, and Spotlight Theater production committee president Mary Pittman.

“When I was younger, in my 20s, I did a production in school,” Bennett said. “I said when my children are grown, that I wanted to do something more serious.”

“I might get discovered,” Bennett said.

Bennett and more than half a dozen women, sat in a room preparing to read their lines during an audition for Spotlight Theater’s rendition of the famous play.

The theater group is just beginning in Livingston Parish, which has been void of a community theater since the Denham Springs Area Community Theater ended in 2005.

The group intends to bring back community theater to Livingston Parish, Reynolds said.

The former theater group disbanded, Reynolds said, partly because the Denham Springs Area Community Theater didn’t have a home to hold their productions, so they moved from place to place, often staging performances at area high school gymnasiums.

Now that the new group has partnered with Suma Hall in Satsuma, Reynolds hopes the new Spotlight Theater will have some staying power.

With only six actresses needed for the production, and a simple set — the whole unfolds in a beauty salon, Reynolds said he believes this production would allow the group a chance to start off small and then build momentum.

The play, he said, is also well received by audiences throughout Louisiana.

“The play focuses on loyalty, love and growing up together,” McGrory said, adding that the actors in the play “depend on each other in a very special way.”

“Each character is different, and that’s why they bond together,” McGrory said.

As the group listened to the actresses read, each watched closely to their movements, their tone, and their clear delivery of each line.

“The hardest part for me is knowing the movie, and knowing the characters,” Reynolds said.

“Theater is so much different from the movie,” he said.

As Bennett practiced her lines — she planned to audition for the part of Clarie — she said she was nervous.

“I’m used to being in front of a lot of people,” Bennett said. “But, I’m used to ad-libbing. This is a straight read.”

Whether she is cast in the play or not, Bennett said she is glad that she took the initiative to audition.

“If I don’t get it, that’s fine,” Bennett said. “I tried.”

Christine Norred came from Baton Rouge on Thursday to take her spot on the audition stage.

Norred, who has performed in plays put on by the Baton Rouge Little Theater, the Gilbert and Sullivan Society and the Ascension Community Theater, read for the part of Truvy.

“There’s only two characters in the play that I’m the right age for,” Norred chuckled.

“I like it, and it’s comical,” she said of the play.

Like Bennett, Norred said auditioning for the play will give her added experience, even if she doesn’t get cast as her favorite character.

“Sometimes you don’t get cast in the play but it’s experience for the next time,” she said.

Auditions were also held Saturday for the production, which will debut at 7:30 p.m. Friday Nov. 11 at Suma Hall, 28975 S. Satsuma Road, Satsuma.

The production will also be at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 12, and at 2 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 13.

Those interested in tickets can call the Arts Council of Livingston Parish at (225) 664-1168.

Parish residents with a interest in acting, directing, lighting, props, sets, promotion, costumes, make-up or any other aspect of the theater are also urged to call the Arts Council of Livingston Parish.

Spotlight Theater is part of the Arts Council of Livingston Parish, a nonprofit organization that was started by a group of volunteers who realized that communities with strong arts and cultural values have strong economic and educational advantages, organizers aid. Since its inception, the Arts Council of Livingston Parish has been a catalyst for artistic development in our area. Our organization ensures a rich, multi-faceted heritage for present and future generations, they said.

Their mission is to promote the diverse artistic and cultural resources of Livingston Parish by supporting established and emerging artistic endeavors and stimulating public support for the arts.

To learn more about the Arts Council of Livingston Parish, follow them on Facebook at