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Civic Theatre’s ‘Steel Magnolias’ at Arts United

Kindness, grace shown by women in beloved 'Steel Magnolias'

The Fort Wayne Civic Theatre's production of Steel Magnolias begins Sept. 9.

Reuben Albaugh

Whatzup Contributor

Published August 31, 2022

Like many, I fell in love with Steel Magnolias when I saw the film. As a naive kid in rural northeast Indiana, I had no idea the movie was based on a play. I loved the performances of Dolly Parton and Sally Field. I didn’t understand who Shirley McClain and Olympia Dukakis were, but I have since learned! 

I think it might be easy for someone to see this play as a period piece. I mean, the 1980s are a time period now — how strange is that! See it as a callback to a “simpler time” when family values were the core of the American dream, but I think that this play is so much more than that. I think it is a celebration of women. 

Playwright Robert Hartling wrote the play and dedicated it to the memory of his sister, who died due to complications from the birth of her only child. The women in this story are the heart of their community and teach us about the kindness, grace, and love we should have for the rest of humanity. Truvy’s kindness in giving Annelle a job and welcoming her into the group; Clairee and Ouiser’s undefinable friendship; and the love that M’Lynn has for her daughter, Shelby, is pure and radiates from the heart of this play. 

This play is funny and will tug at your heart strings at the same time. When you walk away from this production, I hope you will have a sense of appreciation for the people surrounding you and the courage to be a bit nicer to one another. 

I am honored to be directing my first show for the Fort Wayne Civic Theatre! When I graduated from IPFW, I decided to stay in Fort Wayne to be a part of the growing arts and culture scene. Since then, I have been very involved with the community theater. I am always humbled by the talent of the people in this community, many of whom I consider dear friends. 

Reuben Albaugh has acted, directed, designed, and stage-managed at IPFW, First Presbyterian Theatre, Fort Wayne Civic Theatre, and Arena Dinner Theatre. 

Some of his acting credits include “Rumors,” “Corpus Christie,” “You Can’t Take It With You,” “Seussical the Musical,” “Once Upon a Mattress,” “The Tempest,” and “Eurydice.” 

His directing credits include “Sylvia,” “Dashing Through the Snow,” “Christmas Belles,” “Four Old Broads,” “She Loves Me,” “Stepping Out,” “The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas,” and “Little Shop of Horrors.” 

Albaugh is a 2004 graduate of the IPFW Department of Theatre and is the box office manager for the ArtsTix Community Box Office and an instructor at the Fort Wayne Youtheatre.

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