SULLIVAN — Actress Bonnie Church is used to speaking with a Southern drawl.
“I'm from Kentucky, so the accent will come real easy for me,” she said.
Church will be performing as Truvy in Little Theatre-On the Square's version of “Steel Magnolias” Aug. 23 through Sept. 3.
The theater's final show of the season follows the strong relationships of six women in a Louisiana beauty shop. The comedy uses the open communication within the group for dealing with all manner of topics, including death and grief.
Director Michael Weaver said he was drawn to the play because it portrays strength in the face of adversity.
“But it is also about family, both blood family and the families that we choose,” he said. “There is strength everywhere. That is what the play promotes. There is strength even when you can't see it.”
The script is based on a true story written in 1987 by author Robert Harling. His sister died from complications during a minor surgery. He wrote down his experiences, eventually creating the play.
Although the storyline guides the interactions, the characters make the play. The cast is made up of personalities Harling knew from his mother's group of friends.
“The characters are so real, and everybody knows these people.” Weaver said. “They may have different names and different relationships, but these are characters we can identify with.”
The female environment allows a sacred space for women to use colorful language and expressions.
“But men all know these women, too,” actress Mary Redmon said.
Redmon plays the wealthy widow Clairee Belcher. The other personalities, such as the tenacious Ouiser Boudreaux, motherly M'Lynn Eatenton and the religious Annelle Dupuy-Desoto, create a colorful comedy.
“These women are witty and feisty and a little biting now and then,” Weaver said.
The actors are familiar with similar characters.
“I can name these people in my own life,” Church said.
Kelly Hackett, who plays M'Lynn, said woman are known to share everything about their lives, much like the ladies in “Steel Magnolias.”
“Women relate to one another so differently than men,” she said. “It is interesting to see them all rally together in all their different forms.”