Theatre Mirror Reviews - "STEEL MAGNOLIAS"

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note: entire contents copyright 2016 by Tony Annicone


Reviewed by Tony Annicone

Community Players closing show of their 95th season is the classic comedy/drama "Steel Magnolias" by Robert Harling. Truvy's beauty salon is the unofficial hub of Chinquapin Parish, LA, where the ladies of the neighborhood congregate weekly to share each other's 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 during the worst of times. They're soul mates in a rarefied way of combining laughter and pain that extracts tears from the most cynical viewer. These women are the Steel Magnolias of the title: Southern belles, flowery on the inside but strong enough on the outside to handle any challenge thrown their way including the death of a loved one. Director Pam Jackson picked the best six actresses out of 40 that auditioned for these iconic roles.

Camille Terilli plays the huge role of beauty shop owner Truvy excellently. She is the glue that keeps the other ladies together and delivers her many lines with flair while doing the other ladies hair and nails. Camille commands the stage in this role with her expert line delivery and topnotch facial expressions. Camille also delivers the goods in the dramatic last scene, too. Her assistant, the mousey Annelle is played with gusto by Aubrie Bagdasarian. The character starts out as a timid mouse at first. Annelle also becomes a religious zealot who tries to convert the others with humorous results and Aubrie delivers a powerful dramatic moment in the last scene that will leave you in tears.

Janet Daiber as M'Lynn delivers a moving performance as the doting then bereaved mother. She displays her love for her daughter, Shelby in an emotional speech about being there when Shelby came into the world as well as when she left it. It is a very poignant moment in this show and she gives a gut wrenching performance. Her daughter, Shelby is played by Jessica Rogers As Shelby, she displays the bubbly behavior before the wedding. We learn later that she is a diabetic and shouldn't have children. Jessica gives her a backbone when she tells her mother she is pregnant and when we learn she needs a kidney transplant. This last scene is emotion packed and well done+.

The two biggest scene stealers in this show are Jane Cartier as Clariee and Alyce Hagopian as Ouiser. Their funny banter has you laughing at their antics. Alyce's first entrance is gangbusters. She brings down the house with her comic expertise. One of her best lines is that she has been in a bad mood for forty years. Jane is marvelous whether she is delivering a comic line, "If you don't have anything nice to say, sit beside me" or tugging on your heartstrings in the last scene. These two actresses deliver their one liners brilliantly as well as delivering the pathos in the last scene. So for a look at a well written Southern show, be sure to catch "Steel Magnolias" at Community Players.

STEEL MAGNOLIAS (8 to 17 July)
Community Players, Goff Middle School Auditorium, 974 Newport Ave, Pawtucket, RI
1(401)726-6860 or

THE THEATER MIRROR, New England's LIVE Theater Guide