Dronfield Players launch Steel Magnolias

Chris Davis, Penny Coster, Janet Black, Rachael Hope, Bridgette Rouse and Margaret Harrison, left to right, in Steel Magnolias
Chris Davis, Penny Coster, Janet Black, Rachael Hope, Bridgette Rouse and Margaret Harrison, left to right, in Steel Magnolias
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Pondering on her latest stage role, Penny Coster reckoned there will be one person missing from the audience.

Her brother is normally supportive of her theatrical endeavours but her current play is just too close for comfort.

Penny is performing in Dronfield Players’ take on Steel Magnolias, a weepie about young mum Shelby who loses her battle for life after her mother donates a kidney.

She said: “It is quite poignant for me as my niece has been through something similar. Her mum gave her a kidney - only for her it was a better outcome than Shelby’s. That was eight years ago when she was 30 - unfortunately now she has to go back on the transplant list. I doubt whether my brother will come to see the play because of his daughter.”

In Steel Magnolias, which is set in a hairdressing salon in a close-knit community, she plays upper class widow Clairee whose family life is colourful. “When Clairee is talking about her relations, she is quite upbeat about the fact that she has discovered her nephew is gay and her niece has been dethroned as Miss Merry Christmas because she has been caught in a compromising position with a local politician,” said Penny, 56, who lives in Sheffield.

The humour balances the pathos of the piece. Leading lady Janet Black, who plays kidney donor M’Lynn described her role as “am emotional rollercoaster.” She said: “M’Lynn is very together and quite unflappable but it is emotional talking about a daughter dying in hospital without breaking down.

“There is a remark about Shelby’s presents being stacked up for Christmas. My mum passed way when my daughter Beth was about ten months old and when I was going through her stuff, I found a card which said For my granddaughter’s first Christmas”.

Rachael Hope, who plays Shelby, said: “Steel Magnolias is well written - you have got the comedy, you have got the empathy and you have got the emotional anger. I am hoping that when people come to see it they are going to get a lot of enjoyment or relation to one of the characters or know someone who has been in that situation.

Steel Magnolias runs at Dronfield Civic Hall from November 20 to 23, Tickets are £7 and £6 (concessions) inclusive of refreshments. To book, call 01246 417850.