“The bigger the hair, 
the closer to God.” 


Time passes. Things change. But thankfully, not everything. In the twenty-five years since writing STEEL MAGNOLIAS, events in our world have stunned, shocked and awed us all. But every time I revisit this simple tale of complex characters trying to make it through life and death with humor and warmth I am reassured. The basic need to reach out, support and uplift others remains constant. These women  are my family -- literally and theatrically.  

One of a playwright’s greatest joys is to see how the words  are re- invigorated by the talent of the wonderful actors who interpret them. It’s now at the point where young ladies  who played Shelby or Annelle over two decades ago have grown into playing Truvy. Truvys and M’Lynns from the early days have written me to say how much fun they’ve had now taking on the roles of Clairee and Ouiser. Life — in the theatre and elsewhere — indeed goes on.

Commemorating twenty five years of telling the wonderful tale of my mother and my sister is nice. But what’s really cool? Realizing that the celebration of those we love can go on forever.

                                                                                                                                ROBERT HARLING


The original stage production opened Off-Broadway at the WPA Theatre, in New York City, on March 28, 1987. It was directed by Pamela Berlin and featured Margo Martindale as Truvy, Constance Shulman as Annelle, Kate Wilkinson as Clairee, Mary Fogarty as Ouiser, Blanche Baker as Shelby and Rosemary Prinz as M'Lynn. The production transferred to the Lucille Lortel Theatre on June 19, 1987, and closed on February 25, 1990 after 1,126 performances. Betsy Aidem took over the role of Shelby, and notable replacements included Rita Gardner as M'Lynn and Anne Pitoniak as Ouiser. All of the action of the play takes place solely on one set — Truvy's beauty salon, which is part of her house. There are only six characters (all female) who appear onstage; a disc jockey's voice is also heard during the play. All the other characters who appear in the film version, such as the males in the ladies' lives, are only referred to in the play's dialogue.