Friday, July 26, 2019

Director Paula Plum Brings Steel Magnolias to the 'Hub'

I had the good fortune to interview the doyenne of the Boston-area theatre scene, actress, playwright and director Paula Plum.  I talked with Plum about her professional experience, and the play she is directing at the Hub Theatre Company in Boston, "Steel Magnolias." ( Playing through Aug 3)

Over the past three decades, her most notable performance have been as CleopatraLady MacbethBeatriceTouchstone and Phedre at the Actors’ Shakespeare Project; in Miss WitherspoonThe Heiress and Death of a Salesman at the Lyric Stage ; Body AwarenessHistory Boys and New Century at SpeakEasy Stage; LysistrataIvanovMother Courage, and The Marriage of Bette and Boo at the American Repertory Theatre.

Ms. Plum was trained at The London Academy of Music and Dramatic arts and is a Cum Laude graduate of Boston University’s School for the Arts, where she was also honored as Distinguished Alumna in 2003.


Well--this is a Somerville newspaper--so I have to ask you if you have any history of performance in Somerville? I think I met you briefly through Emily Singer--who worked for Jimmy Tingle when he had the theatre in Davis Square.

-Yes,  I have been Artistic Director of A Christmas Celtic Sojourn produced by WGBH & Brian O’Donovan, which had its first performance at Somerville Theatre in December 2003. 

 I see you performed at the Lyric Stage. Did you perform there when it was a little walk up on Charles Street in Boston? The founders used to live in Somerville.

-I have been working at the Lyric Stage since 1975 when the theatre was located above Ken’s at Copley Square, pre-dating their Charles St. home by several years. I played Margot in their production of Dial M for Murder, directed by Polly Hogan, and featuring Ron Ritchell, the founders of the Lyric Stage. 

You seem to embrace all facets of the theatre: Playwright, actor, director. Which is you favorite role?

-Acting for me is the most freeing and when I get a chance to fly. 

I have to ask you this because my brother Don Holder is a Tony Award-- winning lighting designer.  Do you appreciate the role of lighting in a production

-Lighting is everything: it can create not only mood but environment. I believe you really only need actors, text and a a great lighting plot to realize a play.

You are directing Steel Magnolias at the innovative Hub Theatre of Boston.  It is about a group of women who bond over a loss of a friend in a small southern burg.  Could this been have done equally well with men and still have the same impact?

-Seriously, no. Women and men form friendships differently. The way these women relate to each other, the way they support each other, is uniquely female.

How has it been working with the Hub Theatre?

-This is my third directing experience with Hub and all three have been a pleasure. Hub Theatre is a well-greased machine. Lauren Elias is a very skilled producer and knows how to assemble a creative team, as well as how to market the heck out of a show. She’s great with social media; the houses have been packed and joyful!

Finally--why should people see Steel Magnolias?

-I have been blessed with a glorious cast of women who expertly handle the comedy as well as the pathos. . This  cast of actresses works brilliantly together to portray the charm of these Southern women, as well as their warmth, complexity, and passion.

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