BRT Unveils 2013 Season and ‘Steel Magnolias’ Revival This Week

Steel Magnolias 1FRANKLIN, Tenn. – Boiler Room Theatre has more than one presentation this coming week as the public learns its 2013 season slate and Robert Harling’s classic comedic drama Steel Magnolias starts its run at Building Six in the historic Factory at Franklin.

The way BRT will reveal its next season is different from the past – beginning Monday they will post a show a day on their Facebook page through Aug. 20. Those who have “liked” the page are encouraged to share the post on their Facebook wall with a comment that includes a tag of the Boiler Room page (done by typing “@BoilerRoomTheatre”).

At the end of each day, 10 names of those who have posted will be randomly drawn and each will win a pair of tickets to the opening night of the show announced that day. Those posting each day will be eligible to win a pair of BRT Engineer season passes for 2013. The 12-year-old theater will provide two randomly-picked winners with that prize.

Steel Magnolias will run from Friday, Aug. 17 to  Saturday, Sept. 8. Made famous by the 1989 movie of the same name, the tale centers on M’Lynn, played by Kay Ayers, and her daughter Shelby, played by Lori Bargas.

Beginning on the morning of Shelby’s wedding day, the play follows the mother and daughter over the course of the next three years, as they come to terms with Shelby’s decision to become pregnant despite having Type 1 Diabetes and the ultimate consequences of that decision.  The story is made richer by focusing not just on M’Lynn and Shelby but on the small group of ladies who gather in the Louisiana beauty parlor owned by Truvy, played by Keri Pisapia.

“Most women always want to play the roles of Shelby and M’Lynn because they are usually looked on as the ‘stars,’ but this is truly an ensemble show,” says director Lisa Gillespie. “Of all the characters, it is Truvy who holds it all together.  She is the ‘hairspray,’ if you will, that helps the entire hairdoo hold up under pressure and extreme conditions.  She uses humor to downplay seriousness and anger and keeps the group together.”

The group of friends also includes town newcomer Annelle (Cassie Hamilton) and the constantly-sparring Clairee (Linda Speir) and Ouiser (Lynn Yates).  “I feel that there is actually a seventh character in this show…..the beauty shop itself,” adds Gillespie.  “The Beauty Shop is the place where all of these people come together and where the day-to-dayness of life carries on – through tragedy and humor.”     

No stranger to the Boiler Room Theatre stage herself, Gillespie is excited to put her stamp on this well-known show.  “I’ve always loved this show and love Southern theater,” she says. “This will be a faithful adaption of the play – set in the 80s with the big hair and all that goes with it.”  Costumer Katie Delaney and Set Designer Corbin Green will help Gillespie to bring her vision to life.    

Steel Magnolias 2Performances will be held every Tuesday, Friday and Saturday evening at 8 p.m.  There will be select Thrifty Thursday and Sunday Matinee shows, as well.  Information on specific Sunday Matinee and Thrifty Thursday show dates can be found at the BRT website.  Ticket prices are $27 for adults, $25 for seniors (age 60 and up) and students (age 13 through college with valid ID), and $21 for children ages 3 through 12. Matinee prices are $2 less respectively. All Tuesday shows are two-for-one ($27 for two tickets; no other discounts apply). Thrifty Thursdays allow guests to beat the weekend crowds and grab tickets at the bargain price of $17. Tickets may be purchased by calling the Boiler Room Theatre at 615-794-7744 or ordered online at

Following Steel Magnolias, the 2012 Season will continue with Parade, A Year With Frog and Toad, and Mrs. Bob Cratchit’s Wild Christmas Binge.

*Photos by Rick Malkin courtesy Boiler Room Theatre.

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About Evans Donnell

Evans Donnell is the chief theater, film and opera critic as well as co-founder of ArtsNash. He wrote reviews and features about theater, opera and classical music for The Tennessean from 2002 to 2011. He was the theater, film and opera critic for from 2011 to 2012. Donnell has also contributed to The Sondheim Review, Back Stage, The City Paper (Nashville), the Nashville Banner, The (Bowling Green, Ky.) Daily News and several other publications since beginning his professional journalism career in 1985 with The Lebanon (Tenn.) Democrat. He was selected as a fellow for the 2004 National Critics Institute at the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center, and for National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) arts journalism institutes for theater and musical theater at the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism in 2006 and classical music and opera at the Columbia University School of Journalism in 2009. He has also been an actor (member of Actors Equity Association and SAG-AFTRA), founding and running AthensSouth Theatre from 1996 to 2001 and appearing in Milos Forman's "The People vs Larry Flynt" among other credits. Donnell is a member of the American Theatre Critics Association (