Drag version of "Steel Magnolias" on hold after licensing issue

WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) - You might remember M'Lynn and Truvy from Steel Magnolias but probably not with muscles.  A local play promised a good show from a new perspective, but the crew may not be able to keep that promise.

After 65 days of rehearsal and several thousands of dollars in expenses, BUMP Productions in Wilmington was ready for opening weekend. Their adaptation of Steel Magnolias replaced six main characters with male actors while the script was kept the same.

Director Steve Vernon managed the same production in Chicago and had a successful run. He purchased the licensing for both shows from Dramatist Play Services in New York City for about $750.

According to Vernon, shows typically send in their payment for licensing after a show has closed. Dramatist could not be reached for further clarification of their policies since the switchboard was closed throughout the day.

Dramatist's website includes a FAQ page that mentions the change of gender in a script, nothing that the short answer is usually, "No." However, written permission is sometimes granted.

Vernon says the information was different in the sources he received and he intends to work with Dramatist to come to a resolution.

Steel Magnolias is based on the life of the playwright and includes dramatic and emotional scenes between a group of women and how they cope with love and loss.

Vernon says the idea to dress his actors in drag was not intended to mock or make light of the story. Instead, he says it was intended to honor the women in a man's life from a different perspective.

The show was jokingly titled "Dragnolias" on Facebook and had already netted about 60 reservations.

In light of Dramatist's warning letter, opening weekend will be postponed and the credit card reservations will not be processed.

The show promised to net anywhere between $8,000 to $10,000 in revenue and Vernon hopes to find a quick solution to the issue before having to postpone another weekend.

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