Tears and Laughter: Steel Magnolias Will Bloom on Broadway This Fall

News   Tears and Laughter: Steel Magnolias Will Bloom on Broadway This Fall
 
Producers Roy Gabay and Robyn Goodman will partner to bring Robert Harling's Off-Broadway and regional smash, Steel Magnolias, to Broadway this fall.
Rosemary Prinz (left) and Betsy Aidem in the original Broadway production of Steel Magnolias
Rosemary Prinz (left) and Betsy Aidem in the original Broadway production of Steel Magnolias Photo by Carol Rosegg

Goodman told Playbill On-Line the reasons for mounting the 1987 comedy for a wider commercial audience were clear: It's "hilarious" and offers six "fabulous" roles for women. This marks the Broadway debut of the ensemble work.

"It's a hilarious play with a big heart and you can't do better than that," Goodman said.

Harling is consulting closely on the production, the producers said. Jason Moore, who directed Broadway's Avenue Q, will stage Steel Magnolias.

The 1987 play concerns the gossip and affection swapped at a beauty shop in Natchitoches, Louisiana (pronounce it "nack-a-tush"), as the daughter of a beloved customer heads toward marriage and motherhood. Julia Roberts was Oscar-nominated for playing the daughter who adores the color pink, in the starry 1989 movie version.

Harling has said the play was inspired by family events and that he wrote the piece in just a few short months. One character's line about laughter through tears being her favorite emotion seems to sum up the mood of the play. Producer Goodman said that's her favorite line in the script.

Hollywood actresses scrambled for parts in the film, and the roster eventually included Daryl Hannah, Dolly Parton, Olympia Dukakis, Shirley MacLaine, Sally Field and Roberts (with actors Sam Shepard, Tom Skerritt and Dylan McDermott filling out roles only mentioned in the play).

The small-cast, one-set play is a standard in stock, amateur and regional theatre. The property made Harling a rich man and got him a Hollywood deal, too: He co-wrote the screenplay to 1991's "Soapdish."

Prior to its long run at the Lortel Theatre, Steel Magnolias originated in New York at the WPA Theatre.

The play will not have a regional tryout, the producers said, but open directly on Broadway. No date, cast, theatre or design team has been announced.

Gabay and Goodman are also working on a Broadway revival of Neil Simon's Barefoot in the Park.

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