By Josh Shepherd, News writer
Critical to the success of an ensemble show like “Steel Magnolias,” the next harriCYN Community Theatre (hCT) production coming this March, is the chemistry between the actors.
But for this particular production, it was equally important for its two directors, Nell Ann Gossett and Jody Hendricks, to blend their skills throughout a challenging winter production schedule.
To the best of their knowledge, “Steel Magnolias” may be the first hCT play to feature two people in directors’ chairs.
Gossett brings several years of experience as a director of plays, pageants and stage events to the mix. For Hendricks, Magnolias is his first directing gig, although he has been a performer in several features.
According to Gossett, though, her co-director has brought natural leadership skills to the chair as well as a good sense of character development the actors appreciate.
But before embarking on this two-director experiment, neither Gossett nor Hendricks had ever worked as a co-director.
They were uncertain how this collaboration would work, but with mere weeks left before opening night on March 27, they both said the experience was well worth the time.
There have been several advantages to having a co-director. Gossett said that Hendricks brought his unique perspective and insights into the characters that she had not considered.
It helps, of course, that they trust each other.
Hendricks and Gossett performed together in the hCT production of “To Kill a Mockingbird” last year. He played the role of Atticus Finch to her portrayal of Scout.
They worked well together in that production and that comfort zone helped make for an excellent collaborative relationship.
“Magnolias is a good show to learn about direction. The message of this show is something worthwhile to me. I was fine with putting other projects on the back burner while this show came together. Ironically, with school being out so much this winter, I had more time than I expected to devote to the show,” Hendricks said.
The challenging conditions that plagued cast and crew throughout the rehearsal schedule made it a blessing the play had two directors, Gossett said.
“We had winter storms and bouts of sickness that ran through the cast. We were also working with a shortened rehearsal schedule, too. I’m sure by now that Jody and I played almost every role at some point,” Gossett said.
However these instances were far fewer than expected.
“The cast is a determined group of women as strong as the characters they play,” Hendricks said.
“When we thought the ice and cold would force some actors to call in, they would show up. They have all been great to work with,” Gossett added.
Both credit the cast for what they feel will be one of the most memorable of all the recent hCT productions.
Cast members are:
Mary June Brunker,
Rebecca McNees Fisher,
Anne Berry Hodge,
Rachel Lorenz, and
“This is a true ensemble piece, there is no ‘star’ in this show. The play, in fact, has six starring roles and the cast has been enthusiastic about delivering a great show,” Gossett said.
Hendricks said that directing the play has actually been fairly easy because the actors have all had ideas they wanted to try.
“We haven’t had to motivate anyone in this project. We have just given our cast feedback about whether an idea works or not. Their work has made our job loads easier,” Hendricks said.
The hCT production of Steel Magnolias will be held at the Rohs Opera House from March 27 - 30
Opening night on Thursday, March 27, will be a bargain at just $5 a seat. Curtains will open at 7 p.m.
On Friday and Saturday, March 28 and 29, the show will begin at 7:30 p.m. There will be a cost of $10 a ticket for reserved seating.
The final show will be a 2 p.m. Sunday matinee with reserved seating at $10 a ticket.
Tickets can be bought in advance at Biancke’s Restaurant in Cynthiana.
For more information, call Becky Smith: Day - (859) 234-3641; Night - (859) 234-2067