Amber Quick caught the acting bug in the ninth grade, appearing as a witch in her high school's Halloween production of "Equal Frights," and she's assumed a host of roles since those early days, working onstage in college, summer stock and children's theatre presentations.
But for much of the past three years, the Alabama native has served as the personification of the "sassy, resourceful and determined" Daisy Fay, as envisioned by best-selling author and actress Fannie Flagg ("Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Café") in her 1981 novel "Daisy Fay and the Miracle Man," which was adapted into a one-woman show by Ed Howard, co-author of the legendary Southern stage comedy "Greater Tuna."
The play, "All the Way From Magnolia Springs," comes to Conyers at 8 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 9 and Saturday, Nov. 10 at Center Street Arts in Olde Town.
Produced by the Columbus-based Spring Theatre, "Magnolia Springs" premiered in 2006 at the Virginia Samford Theatre in Birmingham, Ala., with Quick in the role of Daisy Fay, and she's been playing it ever since.
"It's been a blessing," said Quick during a recent telephone interview as she was traveling for a "Magnolia Springs" show in Mississippi. "My goal has always been to perform and be proud of my work, in whatever capacity.
"I want to be able to put it out there and be proud of what I've done, whether it's a voiceover, corporate film or as a dancing beer can. But with this show, it's something I still can't believe that this is what I get to do."
The comedy follows Daisy Fay through her formative years in rural Mississippi and her transformation from an awkward tomboy to a community-theatre star and an aspiring Miss America. Flagg said of Quick's performance, "Amber Quick is an actress that grabs you by the heart and shines from the minute she enters the stage."
The Conyers dates represent the final performances of a 25-show tour of the Southeast, and Quick plans to move to New York in early 2008 to test her artistic mettle with the best actors, singers and dancers in the world. But she's confident this won't be her last affiliation with the character she's lived with for all these many months.
"After Nov. 10, there will probably be some post-show depression," she said. "But I've got some voiceover work and some freelance opportunities to ride through November and December, then my fiancée and I are moving to New York at the beginning of the year. Hopefully that won't be the end of Daisy Fay."
Since "Magnolia Springs" opened in Birmingham (which is where Flagg got her start in theatre and Quick attended college), it has been staged throughout the South, where Quick said audience feedback has always been positive.
"It's the kind of show that can entertain a general audience, but the Southerners really get it," she said. "The show has a lot of laughs, some of the funniest things I've ever read. And since the play takes place in 1958, there are some interesting things a teenager would deal with at that time. There's some thought-provoking material that's handled in a nice way, so that the audience leaves with a good feeling."
Besides her extensive experiences as Daisy Fay, Quick has played parts ranging from "a 12-year-old to a 76-year-old." After her early introduction to the stage, she enrolled in Birmingham-Southern University's theatre department and worked in more than a dozen productions, including "Sweeney Todd," "Phaedra," "The Spitfire Grill" and "A Midsummer Night's Dream."
During the summers of her college years, Quick worked at Theatre West Virginia, which presented outdoor plays and she spent a year touring with the Virginia-based children's troupe Theatre IV. Between acting jobs, she spent a year working for an environmental education group that hosted the world's largest Earth Day parade for children, and also worked in the office and the recording booth at the famed Boutwell Studios in Birmingham.
When asked if she felt her many acting experiences had adequately prepared her for what has thus far been her signature role, Quick said, "If you look at acting as a trade, you've got to learn through experience. You can read and soak up theories and methods, but you really can't know what you're doing until you step on stage. Ideally, you grow with every show and you find what works for you. I look at it like a buffet - you take what you've learned that will work for you best."
Chris Starrs is a freelance writer based in Athens, Ga. If you have a story idea, contact Karen Rohr, features editor, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
SideBar: If You Go
What: "All the Way From Magnolia Springs," presented by the Conyers Rockdale Council for the Arts and the Springer Theatre
When: 8 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 9 and Saturday, Nov. 10
Where: Center Street Arts, 910 Center St. in Olde Town Conyers
Cost: Tickets are $20 and can be obtained by calling 770-922-3146 or visiting www.conyersarts.org.