AU CUTC Steel Magnolias1

From left, Susan Curtis, Maggie Kinnamon, Cindy Kelly, Maya Hammond and Gabrielle Smith rehearse a  scene from the Champaign Urbana Theatre Company's production of 'Steel Magnolias,' which debuts Thursday, March 12, 2020, at Parkland College's Second Stage Theatre.

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CHAMPAIGN — Playing at Parkland College’s Second Stage Theatre over the next four days: “Steel Magnolias,” a production of the Champaign Urbana Theatre Company.

Written by Robert Harling, the comedic drama is set in the 1980s and focuses on a group of women in Chinquapin, La., and how they cope with the death of one of their own.

Showtimes are 7 p.m. today through Saturday and 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Tickets can purchased at

The performance features the talents of actors Susan Curtis, Maya Hammond, Gabrielle Smith, Maggie Kinnamon, Cindy Kelly and Gretchen Krieger and director Jennifer Goran.

“Ironically, I don’t get on stage much anymore, and when I saw they were doing (“Steel Magnolias”), I thought, ‘I’d love to audition.’” Goran said. “Phil Strang called and said ‘We were really hoping you’d agree to direct.’

“Directing is my favorite thing to do, so it was like ‘Oh my gosh, sure.’ It was very fortuitous, the right place at the right time.”

The cast and crew having been rehearsing since Jan. 15, and although Goran doesn’t have a say in play choice, she said she was able to utilize her gift of casting.

“I did cast the women very well. They really do embody their characters fully, and the chemistry between them is wonderful,” she said. “... It’s gone beyond the stage.”

Also, Goran said, materials will be available at the theater on Life Goes On, an organ and tissue donor program.

“That’s a line from the play. I like to try and connect a good cause to the plays I direct,” she said.