April 14, 2022 – May 15, 2022

Steel Magnolias

By Robert Harling
Directed by Jerry Lee

Truvy’s salon is Chinquapin, Louisiana’s go-to place for a beauty fix with a hearty side of gossip. Along with her overeager assistant Annelle, Truvy pampers her small-town clients with hairdos, manicures and all kinds of unsolicited advice. Anybody who’s anybody is a regular: There’s the doting M’Lynn and her soon-to-be-married daughter Shelby, the moody Ouiser and the well-to-do widow Clairee. Through witty banter and wisecracks, this hodgepodge group of women form friendships as strong as steel, which they are forced to lean on when tragedy strikes.

Steel Magnolias
is presented by special arrangement with Dramatists Play Service, Inc., New York.

Cast

Emily Gatesman is a Virginia native who has found her home, heart, and community in the Sierra Nevada Foothills. After receiving her Bachelors of Music from James Madison University, Emily performed at various regional theaters across the country, including Bigfork Summer Playhouse in MT, Theatre IV and The Barksdale Theatre in VA, and Riverside CLO Sierra Repertory Theatre in CA. As a performing arts educator, Emily taught music, dance, and theatre arts at public schools in Virginia, Denver, California. She served the New York City schools as an Artist in Residence. She returned to Sonora and SRT in 2016 and has since been a stage manager, performer, or choreographer in 15 productions.  Emily serves on the Sonora Chamber of Commerce and the Visit Tuolumne County Boards of Directors.  She is an Ambassador for the Tuolumne Co. Chamber of Commerce and a member of the Tuolumne Co. Women’s Network.

Olivia Marie Jones (Andrina/Ensemble; u/s Ursula/Sebastian) is excited to dingle-hop back on stage with Sierra Rep; having just completed SRT’s run of Steel Magnolias as Annelle Dupuy-Desoto. Earning her BFA in Musical Theater from Missouri State University, her other selected credits include; Sheila Franklin in Hair, Macy in The Cake, Francine/Lena in Clybourne Park, Lorraine in All Shook Up, Trix in The Drowsy Chaperone, and Sarah in Ragtime. Olivia would like to thank SRT’s Creative Team as well as her Friends & Family back home.

Laurie Strawn is delighted to be back at SRT! Last Fall, she was Princess Dragomiroff in Murder on the Orient Express, and as an SRT Company Member in the early 2000s, favorites include Noises Off, Picnic, Phantom, and Man of La Mancha. Regionally, favorites include Jean Louise Finch in To Kill a Mockingbird (Berkeley Playhouse), Miss Shingle in A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder (Davis Shakespeare Festival), and Betty in The Foreigner (Hillbarn Theater). Laurie is a writer and performer in the Bay area and lives happily ever after with Lee Strawn, another SRT alum, and their wonderful daughter, Julia.

Isabella is thrilled to be making her Sierra Repertory Theatre debut. She is a graduate of the University of Bristol in the United Kingdom where she studied Theatre and Performance. Her most recent professional credits include A Christmas Carol (Alice) and As You Like It (u/s Audrey/Phoebe) both at Milwaukee Repertory Theater. Additionally, Isabella has worked with the Walt Disney Company and the Bristol Old Vic.

Eiko Yamamoto is delighted to debut at Sierra Repertory Theatre in this heartfelt play. Recent select credits: Sugar u/s, Letter Writer #2 u/s in Tiny Beautiful Things (San Francisco Playhouse); Sarom, world premiere of Downtown Crossing (Company One); Working (Palo Alto Players); Meiko in Eureka Day (Spreckels Theatre Company); The 1940’s Radio Hour (Hillbarn Theatre). The Ground Floor at Berkeley Rep, PlayGround SF, Z Space, Marin Shakespeare Company, African American Shakespeare Company, Silicon Valley Shakespeare Company, and FaultLine Theater are a few of the places where they’ve worked. Upcoming: Emily Whitman in Follies (San Francisco Playhouse). Eiko is an alumni of UCLA and California College of the Arts.

Maryann Curmi has been delighting theatergoers throughout the region as an actor and director for over forty years. First stepping onto SRT’s stage back in the early 80’s she performed in siz shows between 1981-1985. After moving to Santa Cruz, she landed the role of Carol in the rock musical Angry Housewives which soon became the city’s longest-running show with a record-breaking one-year run.

Her long relationship with Sonora’s Stage 3 Theatre Company included acting in over 30 shows. Among her memorable performances were: Barbara in August Osage County, Sister Aloysius in Doubt, and Mrs. Kendall in The Elephant Man. Her directorial credits there included A Streetcar Named Desire, A Man for All Seasons, Barefoot in the Park, Driving Miss Daisy, and, Over the River and Through the Woods, among many others.

Maryann spent 16 years as the Morning Drive radio show host on Sonora’s Star 92.7 KZSQ FM station and is now providing voice-over messages for YMCAs all over the country.

Most recently Maryann has enjoyed working at Murphy’s Creek Theatre where she both acted in and directed Accomplice, and The Game’s Afoot.

She is absolutely thrilled to be back at Sierra Repertory Theatre playing Ouiser Boudreaux in Steel Magnolias.

Brenda O'Brien

Brenda O’Brien *

Understudy

Brenda O’Brien (Ursula; Hair & Make-Up Designer) began her theater career in San Diego, where she was seen as Judas in Godspell, Louise in Gypsy, Nicki in Sweet Charity, and Viola in Twelfth Night (to name a few). She received awards for her roles as Ouisa in Six Degrees of Separation, Joan in Dames at Sea, Aldonza in Man of La Mancha, and Electra in Gypsy. Brenda then went on to perform as Svetlana in the 1st National tour of Chess. Soon after she began portraying Carmen San Diego on the PBS television show and video games. In addition to acting, Brenda is an accomplished make-up artist and hairdresser for TV, Film, and Theater. She received her 25 years on Broadway pin in 2019 for her work on Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, Les Misérables, Jekyll & Hyde, and Disney’s The Lion King. SRT Audiences might remember her as Tanya in Mamma Mia (2018), or as Tootie in Meet Me in St. Louis (2021). So glad to be back!

Courtney Glass

Courtney Glass *

Understudy

Courtney Glass is originally from nearby Sacramento, Courtney now calls Sonora home.  In between those locations were years spent in New York City, traveling the American regional circuit, sailing the high seas, and touring through Australia.  Favourite credits include the original Broadway company of THE WOMAN IN WHITE, the Australian tours of SWEENEY TODD and SUNDAY IN THE PARK WITH GEORGE, and many shows right here at Sierra Rep, MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS, SHREK, and CAMELOT, to name a few. She is honoured to support this extraordinary group of women from the wings and thanks you, our loyal audience, for supporting us from the seats.

Artistic Team

Robert Harling

Robert Harling

Playwright

Robert Harling made his directorial debut with “The Evening Star” for Paramount, which he also wrote for the screen based on Larry McMurty’s novel. “The Evening Star” reunited Shirley MacLaine and Jack Nicholson and co-stars Juliette Lewis, Bill Paxton, Scott Wolf, Miranda Richardson, and Marion Ross. “The Evening Star” is the continuation of one of the most beloved and acclaimed movies of our time, “Terms of Endearment.” Before launching a successful stage and screenwriting career, Robert graduated from Tulane University School of Law, but instead of taking the bar exam, he opted to become an actor in New York. After years of productive work as an actor in voiceovers and commercials, Harling was inspired to write the highly acclaimed stage play Steel Magnolias, which was based on events from his personal life. Steel Magnolias continues to thrive in theatrical productions throughout the world. Immediately bridging a career from stage to screen, Harling adapted his original play into the popular film of the same title, which starred Sally Field, Julia Roberts, Shirley MacLaine, Olympia Dukakis, Dolly Parton, and Daryl Hannah. Over the years, Mr. Harling has become a much sought-after screenwriter: other credits, to name a few, include “Soapdish,” which was based on Harling’s acting experience and starred Sally Field, Whoopi Goldberg, and Robert Downey Jr., and “First Wives Club” for Paramount, starring Bette Midler, Goldie Hawn, and Diane Keaton.
Jerry Lee

Jerry Lee *

Director

Jerry Lee is SRT’s Associate Artistic Director. He’s appeared in the SRT productions of Shrek The Musical, Camelot, Cabaret, Route 66, Intimate Apparel, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Man of La Mancha, Rodgers & Hammerstein’s State Fair, and The Drowsy Chaperone. As an actor: I Love You…Change, Forbidden Broadway (California Musical Theatre); Life Could Be a Dream, A Christmas Carol (CenterREP); A Little Princess, The Fantasticks (Sacramento Theatre Company); West Side Story (Mountain Play); Orlando, An Iliad, A Tale of Two Cities (SacImpulse Theatre). As a director: Dogfight, Disney’s The Little Mermaid, Steel Magnolias, Roald Dahl’s Willy Wonka KIDS, I Love You…Change, The Wizard of Oz, Holiday Jukebox, Irving Berlin’s White Christmas, The Robber Bridegroom (SRT); I Love You…Change (STC). Lee began his association with Sierra Rep in 2010 when he stepped in as a replacement in Guys and Dolls.

In 2019, Lee created SRT in Schools, a touring program that brings live professional theatre to Tuolumne County schools free of charge.

Brenda O'Brien

Brenda O’Brien *

Assistant Director/Hair & Make-Up Designer

Brenda O’Brien (Ursula; Hair & Make-Up Designer) began her theater career in San Diego, where she was seen as Judas in Godspell, Louise in Gypsy, Nicki in Sweet Charity, and Viola in Twelfth Night (to name a few). She received awards for her roles as Ouisa in Six Degrees of Separation, Joan in Dames at Sea, Aldonza in Man of La Mancha, and Electra in Gypsy. Brenda then went on to perform as Svetlana in the 1st National tour of Chess. Soon after she began portraying Carmen San Diego on the PBS television show and video games. In addition to acting, Brenda is an accomplished make-up artist and hairdresser for TV, Film, and Theater. She received her 25 years on Broadway pin in 2019 for her work on Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, Les Misérables, Jekyll & Hyde, and Disney’s The Lion King. SRT Audiences might remember her as Tanya in Mamma Mia (2018), or as Tootie in Meet Me in St. Louis (2021). So glad to be back!

Maggie Braun

Maggie Braun *

Stage Manager

Maggie Braun (Assistant Stage Manager) is thrilled to be back at her theatre home! SRT: Steel Magnolias, Murder on the Orient Express, Route 66, The Wizard of Oz, Baskerville: A Sherlock Holmes Mystery, and Million Dollar Quartet. With her associate degree in Theater from Modesto Junior College, she is proud to have her dream job here in Sonora. She would like to thank her family, best friends, and Connor for supporting her in her journey of chasing her dreams. “Look ma, I made it!”

Kimily Conkle

Kimily Conkle

Dialect Coach

Kimily Conkle (Dialect Coach) recently coached Steel Magnolias for SRT and is delighted to join the creative team once again. She has coached dialects extensively throughout the Bay Area, including 20 shows for TheatreWorks (notably the world premiere of Memphis). Other theatres include Marin Theatre Company, San Jose Stage, South Bay Musical Theatre, Broadway by the Bay, Los Altos Stage, The Mountain Play, Foothill Music Theatre, Palo Alto Players, Tabard Theatre, Dragon Productions, Pear Theatre, Woodside Community Theatre, Hillbarn Theatre, Ross Valley Players, and at Stanford University and Santa Rosa Junior College. Kimily has performed with TheatreWorks, San Jose Stage, PCPA Theaterfest, Western Stage, Los Altos Conservatory Theatre, Empire Plush Room, Palo Alto Players, and at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. She is a former member of the Theatre Arts faculty at Foothill College and received her training from the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, American Conservatory Theater, and Pacific Conservatory of the Performing Arts.

Bailey Heppler

Bailey Heppler

Scenic Designer

Bailey Heppler is a Scenic Designer originally from Spokane, WA. She recently graduated from the University of North Carolina School of the Arts School of Design and Production with a focus in Scenic Design. Her most recent projects include UNCSA’s: The Nutcracker Film (2021), Spokane Stage Left’s production of Lonely Planet (2020), Stick Fly (2020), and Bare: A Pop Opera (2019). She is currently based in Los Angeles and is spending her days working, painting, and hanging out with her cat coworker Spike. She is absolutely thrilled to be collaborating with SRT for the first time with such an incredible team.

Lukas Pirmin Wassmann

Lukas Pirmin Wassmann

Costume Designer

Lukas Pimin Wassmann (Costume Designer) received his BFA at the HAW Hamburg, Germany in 2017 and his MFA in 2021 at NYU Tisch. Before studying abroad in 2016 at the California State University Long Beach, Lukas assisted in Moscow, Hamburg, Berlin, Vienna, Zurich, and Salzburg in opera, musical, and film. He worked as a costume and scenic designer in Luxembourg, Hamburg, Berlin, New York, and in Chemnitz where he designed My Fair Lady, directed by Erik Petersen, whom he also currently works with on scenery and costumes for the operetta Viktoria & Her Hussar. Recently he worked with Rakesh Palisetty on Hedda Gabbler at Columbia University, Much Ado About Nothing at Two River Theater, and with Jacob Sexton on Echo, In A Diner, written by Evie Mason and Indian Summer by Gregory S. Moss. Lukas is excited to come back to Sierra Rep after designing the costumes for Murder on the Orient Express and Steel Magnolias.

William Brown

William Brown

Lighting Designer

William Brown (Lighting Designer) is a New York City-based Lighting Designer. He has collaborated in the past with Disney Theatrical Group, Grammy Award-winning artists, and designed in Europe with RWS Entertainment Group. William also serves as the Lighting Director for the renowned modern dance company, José Limón, and tours around the country with the company. Recent designs include Steel Magnolias; The Little Mermaid (Sierra Rep); A Chorus Line (New London Barn Playhouse); Assistant Design credits include Off-B’way: Coal Country (Audible Theatre/The Public Theatre); The Patsy (Transport Group). Regional: Kinky Boots; Or, What She Will (Hangar); Romeo & Juliet (The Huntington); Fellow Travelers (Boston Lyric Opera); Camelot (Charlottesville Opera). BFA: SCAD; MFA: Boston University.

Tatiana Covington-Parra (Sound Designer) is thrilled to be diving into another season at Sierra Rep after a whirlwind 2021 return. Beginning as a sound engineer at Modesto Junior College, she is grateful to have found a community and the opportunity to grow as an artist thanks to the guidance and support of the SRT company. Her favorite design work at SRT includes Cabaret, The Wizard of Oz, and Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner. She would like to thank her Mom, Grandma, family, friends, the MJC Theatre staff, and all her mentors for always allowing her to create, explore, and grow with love.

* indicates member of Actors’ Equity Association (AEA)
† indicates member of United Scenic Artists (USA)
‡ indicates member of Stage Directors and Choreographers Society (SDC)

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