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Players bring Steel Magnolias to stage at Medina winery

Photos by Ginny Kropf: Peg Merrill of Lockport, Crystal Elliott of Medina and Susie Parker of Lockport rehearse a scene from “Steel Magnolias,” the play by Lake Plains Players which will be presented Friday, Saturday and Sunday at Leonard Oakes Estate Winery.

By Ginny Kropf, correspondent Posted 16 May 2019 at 2:53 pm

Michael Flanagan of Lyndonville is director of Lake Plains Players’ production of “Steel Magnolias.”

MEDINA – Lake Plains Players production of “Steel Magnolias” will be presented at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday and at 2 p.m. Sunday at Leonard Oakes Estate Winery, 10609 Ridge Rd., Medina.

The play is a change of pace for the directors and the cast.

Directed by Michael Flanagan of Lyndonville, with co-director Sarah Hill of Medina, the play is a favorite of Lake Plains’ Players’ president, Lance Anderson. He suggested the play and Flanagan liked it, Anderson said.

“The show makes you laugh through your tears,” Anderson said.

Anderson first saw the play by a community theater group after he graduated from college, and loved it, he said. His goal was to direct or somehow be involved in it one day.

Flanagan graduated in 2011 from Lyndonville High School and studied theater at Fredonia for five years. He has wanted to do theater since he was in third grade and was cast in his school play, “The Cheese Stands Alone.”

“I may be an actor, but I love directing,” he said. “It’s so rewarding to be able to draw a bunch of people together, shape them and, in turn, have them shape the show.”

His end goal is to be able to survive just doing theater.

The cast of Lake Plains Players’ production of “Steel Magnolias” rehearses at Royalton-Hartland High School in Middleport. From left are Gabby Montgomery of Lockport as Shelby; Theresa Jones of Brockport, formerly of Medina, as Truvy; Peg Merrill of Lockport as Ouiser; Susie Parker of Lockport as Clairee; Debbie Tompkins of Penfield (seated) as M’Lynn; and Crystal Elliott of Medina as Annelle.

This is the first play Flanagan has directed. He said it is a “real ensemble show.”

“It’s very important all the actors get along and communicate effectively,” he said. “It’s very rewarding when they surprise you.”

The cast includes Theresa Jones of Brockport, formerly of Medina, who plays Truvy; Debbie Tompkins of Penfield as M’Lynn; Peg Merrill of Lockport as Ouiser; Crystal Elliott of Medina as Annelle; Susie Parker of Lockport as Clairee; and Gabby Montgomery of Lockport as Shelby.

Susie Parker’s character is the late mayor’s wife who ends up owning the radio station.

Parker has been in theater for 11 years, but this is her first play. She has performed with Lake Plains Players before, and also with the Palace Theater.

“I started doing theater with my daughters as something to do as a family,” Parker said. “One daughter loved it and the other one didn’t.”

“Being in a play, as opposed to a musical, is so much more intimate,” Parker said. “This is a wonderful group of women. They are so fun and heartwarming.”

Montgomery has been with Lake Plains Players since 2011 and has directed three musicals with them.

“The best thing about our group is we are all friends,” she said.

Sarah Hill tried out for a part in the play, but when she didn’t get it, she offered to help Flanagan direct, she said.

“I’ve already made several suggestions, which he liked,” Hill said.

“Steel Magnolias” was written by Robert Harling in the 1980s and was made into a movie in 1989, based on the author’s mom and sister, Flanagan said.

“What I like about this play is that, although it was written 30 years ago, it is still relevant,” Montgomery said. “It has a lot of humor and emotion people can relate to.”

Flanagan said Leonard Oakes Winery is a perfect venue for this play.

“This is a show that needs to be in your face,” Flanagan said. “The audience needs to feel like they are involved.”

For information about tickets, click here.

Sarah Hill of Medina co-directs “Steel Magnolias” with Michael Flanagan of Lyndonville.

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