Wig design – Sondra Nottingham Model – Marguerite Hall

Wig design – Sondra Nottingham
Model – Marguerite Hall

Backstage with Studio Tenn: Wigging Out!

Jamison Hall at The Factory at Franklin • October 30 to November 9

by Cat Acree | Photograph by Anthony Matula

The six women at the heart of Steel Magnolias are more salt than they are sugar, but beneath all that bickering lies a wealth of love that can weather any trial. This month, Studio Tenn brings this classic Southern tale of female friendship (and very big hair) to The Factory stage.

Although originally an Off-Broadway play, Robert Harling’s cathartic tribute to his sister was almost immediately adapted for film. Unlike the 1989 movie, the play occurs entirely within Truvy’s beauty shop. Here, life comes together through hair. Says Artistic Director and Studio Tenn co-founder Matt Logan, “Their salon is the excuse to bond, share, grieve. . . . It’s where everyone gossips and talks and cries and laughs.”

With her more than twenty years of experience in the beauty industry, the inimitable wig designer Sondra Nottingham’s full range of talents, from the subtle to the extravagant, will be on display with this production. Each of the six women sports at least two wigs, and while viewers can expect big, fluffy hair, the result is far from comically over-styled. M’Lynn’s “blonde football helmet” will be part of the joke but won’t be an ongoing punch line. The big fun, of course, will be the hairdos of Southern belle Truvy, whom Logan calls a “walking mannequin.”

Ultimately, the wigs must serve the story, never dominate it. “[Nottingham] wants every actor to feel lifted up,” says Logan, “[to feel] more in character, more inspired.”

It goes without saying: In Louisiana, the bigger the hair, the bigger the hearts.

For more information and tickets, visit www.studiotenn.com.

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