`Broadway Broads’ Star in Last CATS Show `Steel Magnolias’ for 6 Shows Only

Big Bear Theater Presents Steel MagnoliasThe last show ever for Community Arts Theater Society (CATS) is fittingly one it has never done before, presented by an amazing cast.

Steel Magnolias is a fitting finale for CATS, which is calling it quits after 24 years and over 70 major productions. Catch one of six shows at the Warehouse Theater in Big Bear City at 7:30 p.m. on August 25-26 and September 1-2, along with 2:30 p.m. Sunday matinees Aug. 27 and Sept. 3.

Most people are familiar with the 1989 award-winning film starring Sally Field, Dolly Parton, Julia Roberts, Shirley MacLaine, Daryl Hannah and Olympia Dukakis. Steel Magnolias actually began as a play in 1987 and CATS brings the story of a deep bond shared by a group of women in a small-town southern community with its own all-star cast: the “Broadway Broads of Big Bear!”

The same ladies that brought a bevy of Broadway hits to life in the CATS original a few years ago reunite for Steel Magnolias. Carolyn Freeman Champ was just seen as Lucy in last month’s You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown and for this show she plays Truvy. Years of theater experience add to her role. She was also in Annie Get Your Gun and her background includes national tour productions and voiceover.

Serena Saunders as Annelle literally grew up on the CATS stage so it’s only fitting she should help bring down the final curtain. She’s had many starring roles for the company, last month playing Charlie Brown’s sister Sally and two years ago starring in Annie Get Your Gun. Other credits include The King and I.

Amber Parle’s life journey has taken her around the world and she too has starred for CATS when she’s in town. Her role as Shelby delivers some of the most poignant moments in Steel Magnolias, a show of both funny situations, life-changing challenges and solutions. Diana Hintergardt, another CATS veteran with roles ranging from starring as Anna in The King and I to good witch Glenda in The Wizard of Oz, plays her mother M’Lynn.

Two more longtime CATS stars round out the cast. Elena Peavy as Clairee twice thrilled audiences at the wicked witch in Wizard of Oz and she has lent her magnificent voice to many shows including being one of the original “Divas of Big Bear.”

Nancy Walker meanwhile is a renowned singer from the South Bay who has performed at The White House for both the Clinton and Obama administrations. In 2005 she was asked to sing two songs for the United Nations Ambassador’s Ball during the 60th anniversary in New York City. Walker has twice performed tributes at the Redlands Bowl, to the legendary female singers of Nashville and songs of World War II in front of thousands.

Directing the talented cast is Adam McDonald, who last month was Charlie Brown. CATS founder Karen “Sarge” Rachels produces the company’s last effort with Karen Bergmann again Associate Producer. All tickets for Steel Magnolias are $20 and seating in the theater is limited so purchase early.

CATS Warehouse Theater is at 1117 W. Big Bear Blvd. (909) 585-4757.

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