Theatre Mirror Reviews - "Steel Magnolias"

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"What Happened in Boston, Willie"

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note: entire contents copyright 2008 by Beverly Creasey

Natural Beauty
at Fiddlehead

A Review by Beverly Creasey

When you try to define the ‘80s, you might name the deconstruction of the Berlin Wall (or maybe it’s Pink Floyd’s THE WALL you remember). While the aforementioned wall was coming down, hair was going up, teased way up--- and hair is one of the hilarious draws of Fiddlehead Theatre’s STEEL MAGNOLIAS (playing through Feb. 24th).

Robert Harling’s weepy comedy of Southern manners will have you giggling at how we women looked in the ‘80s---and give you a warm, fuzzy feeling for the bonds of sisterhood. Six friends congregate weekly at the neighborhood hair parlor to share life’s ups and downs, as their curly coifs are sprayed into helmets. Harling cleverly, and almost imperceptively, slips in a couple of hot button issues which makes STEEL MAGNOLIAS more than an entertaining soap opera. And it’s a treat to see six meaty roles for women in one play!

The afternoon I saw the play, the actresses had to struggle with a pesky sound system which gave them unpleasant reverb in the higher registered voices and an annoying aquatic gurgle for everyone. But these are Boston’s best actresses so they stole our hearts away, nevertheless. An imp of the perverse got a ticket to that performance because Leigh Barrett triumphed over a cell phone that went off three times during her heartbreaking speech about grief obliterating all ambient noise!

Ilyse Robbins cracked wise as the feisty hair salon owner while Karen Fogerty brought earnest sincerity to the born again shampoo girl. Sarah DeLima and Sharon Evans got to chew up the scenery as the town eccentrics and Liza Hammond made the blushing bride endearing, despite her Pepto Bismol wardrobe. Kudos to director/ costumer/ set designer Stacey Stephens for all the fabulously tacky finery and for the gorgeous, detailed salon set (lit to flatter those shiny dos by Kristen Hayes).

You may remember the movie, which was charming to be sure ---but nothing can beat live theater. As they say, “Life is not measured by the number of breaths you take, but by the moments that take your breath away.”

"Steel Magnolias" (15 - 24 February)
109 Central Street, NORWOOD MA

THE THEATER MIRROR, New England's LIVE Theater Guide