Theatre Mirror Reviews"Steel Magnolias"

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"What Happened in Boston, Willie"


entire contents copyright 2012 by Tony Annicone

"Steel Magnolias"

Reviewed by Tony Annicone

Footlights Repertory Theatre's current show is Robert Harling's classic comedy/drama, "Steel Magnolias". Truvy's beauty salon is the unofficial hub of Chinquapin Parish, LA. The ladies of the neighborhood congregate there weekly to share each others' lives. The play focuses on the camaraderie of six Southern women who talk, gab, gossip, needle and harangue each other through the best of times and cry, caress, comfort and repair one another through the worst. Their soul mates in a rarefied way of combining laughter and pain that pulls tears from the most cynical viewer. These women are the steel magnolias of the title:Southern belles, flowery on the inside, but strong enough outside to survive any challenge thrown their way including the death of a loved one. Director Trudy Miller chooses six strong actresses to portray these roles especially the role of Shelby who is the heart of this show and infuses the character with the strength and believability necessary for it. Trudy creates an acting ensemble of the highest caliber to bring the audience the laughter and tears the show deserves.

Kristina Dahlene delivers a powerful performance as the bereaved mother, M'Lynn. She shows the love for her daughter in the emotional speech about being there when Shelby arrived in this world and when she left this world, making the audience choke back their tears. Kristina handles the comic side well, too. Her daughter, Shelby is fantastically played by Rosemary Larkin. She makes her a strong character with her bubbly behavior in the beauty salon the day of the nuptials and we learn she is a diabetic who shouldn't have a child, in the scene when she tells her mother she is pregnant and in the scene where we learn she needs a kidney transplant. This last scene tears your heart out. Rosemary is terrific and delivers the goods to the audience in the comic and dramatic moments of this show.

The two biggest scene stealers in this show are Susan Nedar as Ouiser and Susan Fournier as Clairee. Their funny banter leaves you laughing at their antics. Susan Nedar's first entrance is gang busters, bringing the house down with her superb comic performance. One of the best lines is when Ouiser proclaims she has been in a bad mood for 40 years. Susan Fournier is marvelous whether she is delivering a comic line, "If you don't have anything nice to say about people then sit right beside me" or in the tearjerking last scene where the pathos pours across the footlights into the audience.These two actresses deliver their one liners wonderfully and they also deliver the goods with the needed pathos for the last scene. Donna Dorgan plays Truvy. She does the ladies hair and nails while delivering her dialogue as the owner of the salon.The last member of the cast is Vanessa Medeiros who plays Annelle, the assistant hair dresser whose hair styles change in each scene. She starts out as a timid mouse and becomes more confident as the show goes on. Annelle also becomes a religious zealot who tries to convert the others with sometimes humorous results. Vanessa also delivers a powerful dramatic moment in the last scene that will leave you in tears.So for a look at a well written Southern show, be sure to catch "Steel Magnolias" at Footlights Repertory Company, where the topnotch directing and acting will keep you entranced all night long.

"Steel Magnolias" (10 - 13 May)
FOOTLIGHTS REPERTORY cOMPANY
@ Fairhaven Town Hall Auditorium, 40 Center Street, FAIRHAVEN MA
1(774)644-4539

THE THEATER MIRROR, New England's LIVE Theater Guide

| MARQUEE | USHER | SEATS | INTERMISSION | CURTAIN |