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‘Steel Magnolias’ in Surrey caps Naked Stage season of ‘no sets, no props, just really great acting’

Reading of Robert Harling’s script at Newton theatre on first weekend of June
Six actors read “Steel Magnolias” at Newton Cultural Centre from June 2-4. (Submitted photo)

Surrey’s Naked Stage brings “Steel Magnolias” to the stage for its final play reading of the fall-to-spring season.

Set in a Louisiana hair salon, Robert Harling’s popular comedy-drama about friendship and resilience will be read by six women including Jenn Tiles (as shop operator Truvy), Katie Crompton (Annelle), Val Dearden (Clairee), Elyse Raible (Shelby), Kathleen Driscoll (M’Lynn) and Margaret Shearman (Ouiser).

Auditions were held in April for three show dates June 2 to 4 at Newton Cultural Centre (13530 72 Ave.). Show times Friday and Saturday are 7:30 p.m., followed by a Sunday matinee, 2 p.m.

Director Colleen McGoff Dean calls “Steel Magnolias” an iconic story told by characters who stand by one another in good times and bad.

“These women look life straight in the eye and see the good in it and in one another,” she says in a post on Naked Stage’s Facebook page.

“As the director, I have been moved to tears, laughed out loud, and been lifted up by the performance of the incredibly talented actors I have had the good fortune to work with in this show.”

The 1989 film version of “Steel Magnolias” starred newbie Julia Roberts alongside Sally Field, Shirley MacLaine, Olympia Dukakis, Daryl Hannah and Dolly Parton, two years after Harling’s play debuted on stage.

The characters in “Steel Magnolias” are Truvy Jones (40ish, owner of the beauty shop), Annelle Dupuy-Desoto (19, beauty shop assistant), Clairee Belcher (66ish, widow of former mayor, grande dame), Shelby Eatenton-Latcherie (25, prettiest girl in town), M’Lynn Eatenton (50ish, Shelby’s mother, socially prominent career woman) and Ousier Boudreaux (66ish, wealthy curmudgeon, acerbic but lovable).

Scroll down to read the bios of actors in Naked Stage’s reading.

While the company name might imply an erotic happening, it’s the stage that’s naked, not the performers. Naked Stage shows don’t have movement, extensive lighting, sound systems or props, and the stage is bare except for the actors seated on stools and music stands for their scripts.

The “Steel Magnolias” story is “uplifting and authentic with characters who seem like old friends,” McGoff Dean says.

Also, Naked Stage’s performance tradition of “no sets, no props, just really great acting” works to engage audiences “as if you are in Truvy’s salon with them, overhearing their interactions with one another.”

Show tickets are sold for $18 on, also at the door.

Bios for actors in the Naked Stage reading of “Steel Magnolias”:

Jenn Tiles (Truvy)

Jenn was just tickled pink when she found out she was cast as Truvy Jones! Jenn is a voice over actor, has been in a number of theatre productions throughout the lower mainland and is a dedicated member of the arts community. This is Jenn’s first appearance with Naked Stage Readers Theatre, is excited to be working with this cast and director, and hopes everyone has a rootin’ tootin’ good ol’ time at Truvy’s Beauty Salon!

Katie Crompton (Annelle)

Katie is thrilled to be making her Naked Stage debut! Katie is a recent graduate of Sheridan College, with a Bachelor’s in Music Theatre. Since graduating in 2021, Katie has worked as a Teaching Artist with Bard on the Beach. Past theatre credits include: Homing In (Fabulist), Pippin, Cabaret (Theatre Sheridan), Living the Dream (CMTP), and A Shakesperience (Bard on the Beach). Katie would like to thank her family for their constant love and support!

Val Dearden (Clairee)

Val has performed with many lower mainland companies, organized drama festivals and served as an active member on theatre boards. She first worked with director Colleen McGoff Dean, in Noises Off. Val’s last appearance with Naked Stage was as the Velveteen Rabbit in the play of the same name. Some of her favourite roles include Big Mama (Cat on a Hot Tin Roof), Emma (Over the River and Through the Woods), and Professor Ashford (Wit).

Elyse Raible (Shelby)

Elyse is excited to be making her Readers Theatre debut with Naked Stage’s “Steel Magnolias” and to be working with such a talented group of women. She has been performing in theatres throughout the lower mainland for nearly 15 years. Recently appearing in Pivot Theatre’s production of “Confetti.” Elyse would like to thank Colleen for this wonderful opportunity and hopes to see you there! This one is for you, mom. Thank you and love you.

Kathleen Driscoll (M’Lynn)

By day, Kathleen is getting to know the semi-retired life of a Preschool Teacher. By night, Kathleen transforms into an enthusiastic theatre nut. Always busy acting in plays and musicals around the lower mainland (over 49 plays in the last 26 years) and also back stage with costumes, make-up, and technical operator. An award winning, true community theatre member, Kathleen hopes you enjoy the show in this new (to her) and unique form of “reader’s theatre”.

Margaret Shearman (Ouiser)

Margaret is very happy to be expressing her grumpy side through the loveable curmudgeon, Ouiser. She was last onstage in the play reading of The War of the Worlds last fall with Pivot Theatre, Surrey’s newest community theatre that Margaret founded in 2021. Before that, she appeared in Social Security at Surrey Little Theatre. Since then, Margaret has been working hard behind the scenes at Pivot Theatre as producer, stage manager, writer, tech…

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Tom Zillich

About the Author: Tom Zillich

I cover entertainment, sports and news stories for the Surrey Now-Leader, where I've worked for more than half of my 30-plus years in the newspaper business.
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