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NDA Alum Molly Gray to Star with Mom in Local Production of ‘Steel Magnolias’


“My mom and I have always shared an admiration for the arts, and theater is such a big part of our lives,” said 2005 alum Molly Gray. 

Gray and her mom, Ann Preiss Gray, are starring in the upcoming Birder production of “Steel Magnolias.” 

During her time at NDA, she dedicated her time to the Drama Department and participating in plays.

“I did a number of plays during school and even got the lead in the fall play my freshman year which was a big deal at the time. I only did one musical because it was the part where I didn’t have to sing,” said Gray. 

She was Anybodys in West Side Story and her favorite was the spring play her senior year where they did “You Can’t Take it With You.” 

“We hired an outside director and that was a great experience,” she added. 

When she wasn’t cast by NDA, she sought outside roles, such as playing the lead in a show at St. Norbert College and also doing a tour of “Tony ‘n Tina’s Wedding.” 

“It taught me a sense of resilience and ingenuity that, I think, has helped me a lot in my career in NY and LA,” said Gray. 

When she graduated from NDA, she got her B.A. in theater at Butler University. She also did an exchange program at the Moscow Art Theatre School and did internships at Hope Summer Rep, the Williamstown Theatre Festival and the Berkshire Theatre Festival. 

She moved from New York to Downtown LA in 2016. At the time, she was dating her husband long distance. 

“He was getting his Masters in Acting at USC. I said ‘If I still like you at the end of your first year, I’ll move out there until you graduate,’” added Gray. 

She had the firm idea that they would move back to New York the second he graduated, but she connected with a lot of amazing people in California. 

“My career felt fuller and flourishing in a way it wasn’t in New York,” she added. 

They just moved to Burbank this fall after having their daughter Zelda on September 9, 2022. 

“Last summer into the fall, the double writers’ and actors’ union strikes were in full swing, and I was really longing for something to put my creative energy into as the industry was at a standstill for all intents and purposes,” she said. 

Gray’s mom had done “Steel Magnolias” previously, and it was a wonderful production. 

“We started talking about how great it would be to have the opportunity to take on mother/daughter roles,” said Gray. 

“I think what will set this show apart is the casting choice of a real-life mother-daughter team to play the central roles of M’Lynn and Shelby,” said Preiss Gray. 

The two share a unique real-life bond that will bring an extra layer of authenticity and emotion. 

“‘Steel Magnolias’ is a story that has resonated with audiences for decades, addressing themes of love, loss and enduring strength of the human spirit,” added Preiss Gray. 

The production promises to deliver a heartfelt and memorable experience for fans of the film and theater enthusiasts for all ages.

Performances are at The Broadway Theatre, 123 S. Broadway, DePere, on April 12, 13, 18, 19 and 20. Tickets are available at or by calling the box office at: (920) 445-5669. 

“Get your tickets now for an evening filled with laughter, tears and the celebration of the enduring power of friendship and family,” said Gray’s mom. 

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About the Contributor
Lily Arkens, Staff Writer
Lily Arkens is in her junior year at NDA. She is in her second year as Football Team Manager, and during the summer in her free time, she loves to golf with her grandpa every Friday. In journalism, she is interested in writing human feature stories and sports-related stories.

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