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story.lead_photo.caption Jordan Hart as Miss Agatha Trunchbull sings during an August rehearsal for The Little Theatre's summer production of "Matilda." The Little Theatre will present "Steel Magnolias" starting Nov. 21. Photo by Greta Cross / News Tribune.

If you recognize this line: "I'm not crazy, M'Lynn, I've just been in a very bad mood for 40 years," chances are, you're more than familiar with what's to come at The Little Theatre of Jefferson City.

The classic American play "Steel Magnolias" is making it's way back to TLT, 27 years after first debuting locally at TLT in 1992.

Director Tracy Wegman described the play and it's 1989 movie counterpart as "iconic."

"Everybody knows the characters. Everyone knows the story of 'Steel Magnolias,'" Wegman said.

But in case you don't, here's a rundown.

The 1987 play "Steel Magnolias," penned by American writer Robert Harling, is a comedy-drama turned tragedy. Placed in an in-home beauty parlor tucked away in Chinquapin, Louisiana, the all-female cast brings the space to life, and it's everything you'd expect from salon ladies: witty banter, fluffy hair (think Dolly Parton, who plays salon owner Truvy in the movie) and big personalities.

But the mood quickly drops when a young, pregnant Shelby risks giving birth despite diabetic complications and doesn't make it. The "sudden realization of their mortality" brings a new perspective to the salon and "draws on the underlying strength" and love the women have for one another, according to the play description on TLT's website.

The story is based off of Harling's real-life experiences with his sister, who died following the birth of his nephew in 1985. Wegman said the play is a tribute to Harling's sister's strength and will.

Wegman said she was drawn to the play because it's a story of "strong women who can weather any storm." She summed up the play's message with three short phrases: love, loss and longtime friendship.

"As women, as individuals, we have these people around us who help us weather any storm. These characters really just stand strong, whatever is thrown at them," Wegman said. "I really admire these characters very much. I admire their strength. And each of them are strong in her own way."

And the women stepping in to these roles have done a "great job," Wegman said. There were little, if any, challenges along the way.

"They embody the essence of the characters," Wegman said.

Jamie Waier, Megan Steck, Gina Connor, Natalie Wittenberger, Becca Seabaugh and Brenda Haugen star in the production. The cast has been rehearsing since July, and Wegman said they've done a good job of growing with their characters.

As Wegman goes into the last few days of rehearsals, she carries a recent memory with her. At one point, Christina Crouse, an actor who had played the part of Ouiser Boudreaux for two different theater companies, spoke to her briefly about possibly directing "Steel Magnolias." But less than two weeks later, in June 2018, before anything had been discussed or finalized, Crouse died.

"She's really the individual that put the bug in my ear for directing this play," Wegman said.

And when Wegman was contacted by TLT to see if she was interested in directing, she "jumped at the chance."

"Steel Magnolias" will open at 7:30 p.m. Nov. 21 at the Miller Performing Arts Center and will run through Nov. 23, with performances at 7:30 p.m. nightly and at 2 p.m. Nov. 23. Admission is $15. For additional questions, call 573-681-9400.

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