The Art of Transformation in “Steel Magnolias”
Jenny Reber (’12) consistently conquers the art of transformation during each of her theater performances, a trait only achieved after years of practice. Despite the countless roles she has filled since her middle school debut of “Alice in Wonderland: The Musical,” no two have been alike. Between first audition and closing night, Reber must work to identify, develop and mimic the different facets of each character, from their physical appearance down to their personality strengths, flaws and quirks.
Reber loves looking at the world through the different lenses of her characters. Over the years, she has developed a knack for implementing on-stage humor into each performance, though not always purposefully.
“During Bethel’s Charlotte’s Web, I had to walk up the stairs with two other characters following me,” says Reber. “I tripped and totally fell on my face and then while trying to recover, tripped again. Let’s just say I made it a trait of my characters and continued to act clumsy through the rest of the scene.”
In addition to her talent of making audience members laugh out loud, Reber also works to display the character’s inner beauty that viewers often overlook. Reber’s current role of M’Lynn Eatenton in “Steel Magnolias” proves to be one such role.
The show, one of Reber’s all-time favorites, is about six Southern women who gather at a local beauty parlor to laugh and share stories. Each of them has her own set of problems, but together, they work through their issues and support one another. Despite not being cast in the role she originally hoped for, Reber now sees that this character far better suits her personality.
“[M’Lynn] is an extremely strong woman who cares deeply about her family and is a bit of a worrier… because she cares,” explains Reber. “I can definitely relate to her on this level, because I, too, worry a lot about people. Protraying M’Lynn [also] gives me the opportunity to look through [my mother’s] eyes and realize the amount of love a mother has for a daughter.”
This particular role has stretched Reber in ways that she admits will help her grow as an actor. Though the show does not hit the Bethel stage until March 22, Reber and her five women co-starts still have a lot to do. To complete the transformation, each actress will receive the ultimate 80’s makeover — shoulder pads, teased hair and all!
Following the production of “Steel Magnolias” and graduation, Reber hopes to continue performing for the rest of her life to supporting herself: “Even if it means not making it big,” she says. However, her ultimate goal is to one day land a role in a television sitcom or a movie.
“[God] knows how hard I have worked, and that what I do is for his glory,” says Reber. “So I put the outcome of [each] performance in His hands.”
Don’t miss out on your chance to watch Reber on the stage. Get your “Steel Magnolias” tickets today!