LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) — The latest production for the Lansing community theater group Riverwalk Theatre is “Steel Magnolias,” a 1987 play by Robert Harling made famous by a 1989 film of the same name starring Sally Field, Dolly Parton, and Julia Roberts.

Director Meghan Eldred-Woolsey said she grew up with the 1989 film and was fascinated by the original script by Harling, which tells the story of a woman suffering health complications from Type 1 diabetes and her friendship with a group of women working at a salon in a small Southern town.

“It resonated with me because of the strong female friendship present in the story,” Eldred-Woolsey said.

Eldred-Woolsey has other close and personal connections to the story of “Steel Magnolias,” as she herself has a diabetic sister. Original author Harling based “Steel Magnolias” in part on his own sister, who died of complications from Type 1 diabetes in 1985.

She said her sister, who works in diabetes education, helped consult on the production, helping provide a sense of realism to aspects of the play that deal with Type 1 diabetes.

“She gave us an authentic look into that character’s journey,” Eldred-Woolsey said.

While “Steel Magnolias” certainly has tragedy, Eldred-Woolsey also emphasizes that there’s lots of humor to be found in the play, especially through the quirky characters that make up the salon’s staff.

“If you’re looking for something quick-witted, it’s a real fun thing to watch with a real emotional core,” Eldred-Woolsey said.

Riverwalk Theatre’s production of “Steel Magnolias” began in early February, and Eldred-Woolsey is eager to present the efforts of her and her production crew, which is composed of entirely women, to a live audience.

“We’re very excited and ready for an audience. This is a show that’s meant to be seen,” she said.

“Steel Magnolias” begins its showings on April 13. For a full schedule and tickets, visit