When Beth Ann Gist steps into the role of Clairee from the critically acclaimed play-turned-film "Steel Magnolias," she'll do so from a more personal perspective than most. Gist is playing the role in honor of her childhood best friend, Shannon, who died from complications with diabetes.
"I love the story of small-town life with a Southern flair, the complicated relationship between mothers and daughters, and the strong ties of female friendship," she said of why she auditioned for the play, which mirrors her friend's personal struggle with Type 1 diabetes.
Being performed by the East Brainerd Community Theater, the local adaptation of "Steel Magnolias" is taking the stage at Christ United Methodist Church March 16-19.
"It's based on a true story, which I thought everyone knew, but apparently not," Director Stephanie Pearson said, adding that the play and corresponding film with Julia Roberts were personal favorites.
Pearson, who has performed in the play in the past, said tackling it as a director has been a very different experience. The choice in plays, she added, came as a balance to last year's all-male-casted "The Odd Couple."
"I was not a mom when I was in it originally, but now I am a mom of two grown daughters and it's really just a powerful story," she added in regards to "Steel Magnolias." "I have a fabulous cast of wonderful ladies."
"Steel Magnolias" is being performed nightly at 7:30 p.m. Thursday-Saturday, with a special matinee option Saturday, March 18 and Sunday, March 19 at 2:30 p.m.
More information about the play, as well as the $10 tickets, is available at ebctchatt.com, and tickets will also be available at the door.