Dawn Wells Returns to the Alhambra This Spring

When Dawn Wells last appeared at the Alhambra Theatre, ticket started at $7.50, the Alhambra Dinner Theater served a buffet and she was directed by George Ballis. That was in 1974 and Ms. Wells played the lead in Neil Simon's Barefoot in the Park. On May 24, 2017, Ms. Wells will once again star at the Alhambra, this time in the Tod Booth-directed show, Steel Magnolias in what is now the Alhambra Theatre & Dining, celebrating its 50th anniversary season and is the longest running professional dinner theater in America.

Wells, of course, gained notoriety in the late 1960's classic television show, Gilligan's Island. She played the girl-next-door, Mary Ann Summers. While forever etched in television folklore, Gilligan's Island only ran for three seasons. Meanwhile, in addition to acting, Wells is a producer, author, spokesperson, journalist, motivational speaker, teacher, and Chairwoman of the Terry Lee Wells Foundation - focusing on underprivileged women and children in Northern Nevada. She has also served on the alumnae board of Stephens College and is co-founder of the Elephant Sanctuary in Hohenwald Tennessee. A fourth generation of Reno, Nevada, Miss Wells represented Nevada in the Miss AmErica Pageant of 1959.

As part of its "50 Years of Memories" celebration, Ms. Wells returns to the Alhambra more than 30 years later as Ousier Boudreaux. Written by Robert Harling, the play opened off-Broadway at the WPA Theatre in 1987, it was met with critical acclaim and ran for more than 1,100 performances. In 1989 the movie version premiered with an all-star cast which was nominated for a combined eight Tony and Golden Globe Awards, eventually winning the Globe for Best Drama. The action is set in Truvy's beauty salon in Chinquapin, Louisiana, where all the ladies who are "anybody" come to have their hair done. Helped by her eager new assistant, Annelle, the outspoken, wise-cracking Truvy dispenses shampoos and free advice to the town's rich curmudgeon, Ouiser; an eccentric millionaire, Miss Clairee, who has a raging sweet tooth; and the local social leader, M'Lynn, whose daughter, Shelby, is about to marry a "good ole boy." Filled with hilarious repartee and not a few acerbic but humorously revealing verbal collisions, the play moves toward tragedy when, in the second act, the spunky Shelby (who is a diabetic) risks pregnancy and forfeits her life. The sudden realization of their mortality affects the others, but also draws on the underlying strength - and love - which give the play, and its characters, the special quality to make them truly touching, funny and marvelously amiable company.

Steel Magnolias runs May 24 through June 25. Tickets start at $35 for and range to $53. Ticket price includes dinner, show and parking. For all evening performances, doors open at 5:50 PM with dinner beginning at approximately 6:00 PM. The show begins at 7:50 PM. Doors open at 10:50 AM for Saturday matiness with the meal beginning at 11:00 AM, and the show beginning at 1:15 PM. For the Sunday matinee the doors open at 11:50 AM, the meal is served at 12:00 PM and the show begins at 1:50 PM. Call the box office at 904.641.1212 or at www.alhambrajax.com.

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