The six-person cast of “Steel Magnolias” has become as close as the characters they portray.
The all-female cast is from the gifted and talented theater program at Zachary High School, and teacher-director Trish Dry said the student-actors have been working hard together to develop their characters and build trust among one another.
“They are a tight-knit group, but they’ve had to become close to become good,” Dry said Sunday during a dress rehearsal. “We’ve been doing lots of trust-building exercises together to strengthen that bond.”
It’s helped that all of the girls have the same talented theater class during seventh hour, as they’ve used the time to work on the 1987 play written by Robert Harling, which was adapted into a film by the same name in 1989.
“They received their scripts before the Christmas break, and in January, came back with a sense of who their characters should be,” said Dry.
The six girls felt confident enough in their “Magnolias” parts to compete in February’s Vonnie Borden Speech Festival at Southeastern Louisiana University, where they won second place in the One Act category.
The win qualified the cast to go to state, but the competition is April 16, the same night the play ends in Zachary.
“I’m very proud of them,” Dry said. “They’ve worked very hard, and they’re very good.”
Both the play and film are about the bond a group of different women share in a small Southern community and how they cope with the death of one of their own. The film version stars Sally Field, Shirley MacLaine, Dolly Parton, Olympia Dukakis, Julia Roberts and Darryl Hannah.
In Zachary High’s version of “Steel Magnolias” Breann Burson plays Annelle, Julia Coreil plays Truvy, Emma Dry is Clairee, Kenlee McHugh is Shelby, Jordan Miller as M’Lynn and Kennedy Wilcher as Ouiser.
Emma is Dry’s daughter.
“I didn’t cast her,” said Dry. “In fact, she wasn’t even going to try out for the part, which I thought was probably best, but after being persuaded by drama teacher Jen Masterson, she gave it a shot.”
Dry also credits a nine-person crew — Kristen Bastin, Abrieal Eubanks, Aaron Ewing, Curtis Hooper, Mary Ellen McCrary, Hannah Partin, Miranda Pierce, Tray Ross and Austin Simmons — for providing the technical aspect of the show, as well as six student understudies for their hard work: Kaleigh Carter, Madison Russell, Lauren Smith, Ashley Souileau, Maggie Terral and Sarah Underwood.
Ticket sales have quickly soared past the 300 mark, the fastest of any Zachary High production, said Hooper, the student box office manager.
“We are very excited about that, but still I worry that a few people might not embrace the familiarity of the whole ‘Southern women angle,’ ” said Dry. “I think most people will love it, though. It’s funny and dramatic at the same time.”
Doors open at 6:30 p.m., and the show starts at 7 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday in the Visual and Performing Arts Center on Zachary High’s campus.
Tickets are $12 for adults, $7 for students and available online now at zhsdrama.ticketleap.com/steelmagnolias.