“When they asked me to play Ouiser, I didn’t have a clue what this lady was about,” said Raymond. “I had never seen the movie or the play. Everyone I’ve known since I moved here in 1982 thought it was very funny that this New York lady was playing someone from Louisiana. I finally did get the hang of the accent; by speaking slowly, I could do it.”
But the biggest challenge wasn’t speaking with a drawl: It was remembering to speak at all.
“Memorizing the lines was a challenge,” she said. “I had to learn not only my own lines, but a phrase or two before and after so I’d know where I was going. In one scene, there were four or five of us, and each of us had one line, right after the other. Holy Moses, I had to count the lines until it was my turn to speak again.”
About 200 people showed up for the show’s two performances. But it wasn’t the success of the play that made it worth doing, said Raymond.
“I only knew one of the other women when we started, and I had only met the director once, but I found a new group of fantastic friends who are truly steel magnolias,” she said. “One is a cancer survivor, two are students, one works for a ad agency -- I learned all their stories.
"It was like a play itself, but it was real life.”
"Milestones" covers significant events and times in the lives of metro Atlantans. Big or small, well-known or not -- tell us of a Milestone we should write about. Send information to firstname.lastname@example.org; call 404-514-6162; or mail to Milestones, c/o Jamila Robinson, 223 Perimeter Center Parkway N.E., Atlanta, GA 30346.