The second you hear one of Ouiser's zingers or a bit of sassy wisdom from Truvy, you know you're home.
Well, at least you know you're in Louisiana.
The lively and poignant "Steel Magnolias" comes to the Emma Kelly Theater stage Friday and Saturday at 7:30 p.m. and for a 2 p.m. matinee on Sunday.
Written by Robert Harling, whose screenplay credits include "The First Wives Club" and "Law of Attraction," the original script was inspired by his personal experience with his sister's death.
All the action is set in Truvy's beauty shop in Chinquapin Parish, where everybody gets their "do" done. Although the play deals with tragedy, Director Tony Phillips explains that the story focuses on the importance of love and friendship.
"The love that these women share is forthright," he said. "Their friendship is the glue that holds their lives together."
The cast of leading ladies includes Averitt Center veterans Eileen Bayens, cast as the eccentric millionaire Miss Clairee, and Susan Jackson playing the town's rich curmudgeon, Ouiser. Truvy, shampoo and free advice dispenser, is portrayed by Nichole Deal, and Sophia Shepard plays the anxious-to-learn Annelle.
Anastasia James will portray Shelby, the "prettiest girl in town," whose character is based on Harling's sister. Valerie Zeigler rounds out the cast as Shelby's mother, M'Lynn. Together, the characters weave a story about sincere friendship, exemplifying what it means to be a true steel magnolia: delicate southern belles, yet strong as steel.
"All six of these women are veteran actresses, and all have played leading ladies," Phillips said. "Take strong talent, give them these types of roles, and you can create a magical stage experience."
"Steel Magnolias" will have you laughing and eventually in tears as you feel the depth of the friendships and heartache portrayed.
"There is a line in the play that reads, 'Laughter through tears is my favorite emotion,' " Phillips said. "I have found through my years of directing and producing community theater people enjoy live theater for both reasons - laughter and tears. This show provides just that."
Tickets are $15 for adults and $18 forbox for Friends of the Arts, and $18 for adults and $20 for box for non-members. Tickets for all youth are $10. You can purchase tickets online at www.averittcenterforthearts.org or call (912) 212-2787. Box office hours are Tuesday through Friday, noon to 5:30 p.m.