HOUSTON VOICE www.houstonvoice.com
JUNE 3,2005 15
r DON MAINES
Back from her farm at Brenham, the Alley's
'Steel Magnolias' star Annalee Jefferies talks
about overcoming Dolly and playing to gay men
Feeling so butch!
"I FEEL VERY BUTCH," LAUGHS
actress Annalee Jefferies. The Alley
Theatre star is just back from working 10-
hour days at her 110-acre farm in
Brenham, a "piece of heaven" that's a
devil to keep up.
"I got really, really dirty," she explains.
"So dirty you could write on my skin." In
just a few hours, Jefferies will be fluffing
up to get back into the beauty parlor that
is the meeting place of six funny, strong
women in Robert Harling's crowd-pleaser,
As Trudy, the Dolly Parton role - oops!
Don't let Jefferies hear that! It's hard
enough, she explains, to make Truvy's
one-liners sound fresh without "having to
overcome the Dolly Parton mess."
(Anyone who's gay knows that Parton
played Truvy in the film version of the
play. Anyone who's really gay knows that
"Steel Magnolias" began as an off-
Broadway play without Parton.)
"I get disconcerted when someone
says to me, Are you playing Dolly
Parton?'" Through clenched teeth, she
responds, "No, I am playing a character
And what a character she is! "Truvy is
one of those larger-than-life, wonderful
Southern women," says Jefferies. "She is
so splashy, so big, to play her you have to
jump in with both feet!
"She has a thick shell, with a wonderful spirit inside, and she keeps the force
positive," adds Jefferies. "Truvy says, 'No
one cries alone in my presence.'"
Of the play, which has been held over
through June 12 to accommodate high
demand for tickets, Jefferies says, "It is
interesting doing something so popular,
and such a part of pop culture. You have
an audience that is a little bit ahead of
you. They've seen the movie a thousand
times. They know the lines. They know
what's coming. It's a little like visiting a
GAY MEN IN PARTICULAR, "CAN'T
get enough of it!" she says. "They love it.
Last night there was a man on the front
row, and 1 could sense him and his
friends right at my station. It was like
they were right on my left shoulder all
O MORE INFO
Through June 12
615 Texas Ave.
Melissa Hart (right) as Clairee Belcher and Annalee
Jefferies as Truvy Jones are in the Alley Theatre
production of 'Steel Magnolias,' running through
June 12 on the Alley's Hubbard Stage. (Photo by
night. So when we came out for our curtain call, I pointed at them."
Later, the group met Jefferies at a bar,
and they giggled over cocktails.
"I haven't talked with my lesbian
friends," says Jefferies says, "but the play
is all women - not that I have anything
against men - but there are no men in the
play, and I like that better than the movie
because I think you can imagine the men
better than they showed them."
At the helm of the show's sorority
was director Judith Ivey, the two-time
Tony Award-winning actress who hails
"She was marvelous!" says Jefferies.
"Everybody adored her. Don't get me
wrong, she was not a pussycat, not a
pushover. But she never said a negative
word. She built up the respect in the
room that we have for each other."
Now that the play has opened and
Ivey has left town, Jefferies says, "We
all miss her desperately. Directors
always leave us."
Likewise, Jefferies often travels to
other cities to perform in plays, including 16 with former Houstonian Michael
Wilson as director.
Someday fans might hear that Jefferies
is not acting but directing a show.
"I taught for a good deal of time," she
says, referring to her ActorSource classes
for working actors in Houston, "and so
many of my fellow actors have asked me
why I'm not directing. So yes. it is something I have been interested in doing.
"Once I get behind a project, instead of
having a project picked for me, that is
when I think it will happen."
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