Forge Theatre was packed opening night for STEEL MAGNOLIAS. Men and women alike laughed out loud at the well done wit, and many also quietly wept during this comedy-drama by Robert Harling which centers around an eclectic group of prominent Southern women who gather at the local hairdressing salon in small Louisiana town to ‘let their hair down’ some. There are many moments of absolute hilarity as the audience gets to play the proverbial “fly on the wall”, privy to the local going’s on, the women’s comedic verbal sparring and devilish zingers; yet there are tender and terribly tragic times, beautifully portrayed, as the cast, directed by Gregory Morton, succeeds in resonating these chords of human emotion.
Much of the first act speeds away via highly entertaining expository, getting to know the six quirky characters, and the Louisiana setting, which is very germane to the overall impact of the second act. The women develop through challenges and change over the two-ish year time span of the play. Clairee (done to a T and beyond by Regina DePaolis) is quite wealthy, loves recipes, and can spring a zinger with precision. Ouiser (handsomely portrayed with fabulous expression by Stevie Tagye), is, to sum her up in her own words, “…not crazy …just been in a very bad mood 40 years!”, and Truvy (imbued with heart and depth by Pam Taylor) the salon owner knows her clients aren’t there for just their hair. M’Lynn (given strong presence, plus sensitivity by Wendy Mirto) is protective over her perky daughter, Shelby (energetic, expressive performance by Abbie Cichowski) who is an at-risk diabetic, yet determined to live a full life and to consequently pay a very high price for her choices. Annelle (played with viridity and verve by Christa Wisneski) who is new to the town and oh so many other things, becomes a “semi-daughter” to Truvy.
The detail exhibited in each actor’s expressions and stage business excelled in this performance, such as the way the women gave the sense of actually looking into mirrors, and the use of real nail polish on stage, the smell adding to the sense of place. As an
ensemble, the cast played deftly against one another and demonstrated great timing.
The set (Hal Holzer, Scott Coonradt) is replete with shampoo bowl and retro hooded hair dryers, but not overdone as to detract attention from the stage action. Costuming (Regina DePaolis) was well balanced, lighting (Clem Mirto) sound and music (Scott Coomradt, J.T. Grosch and Ian Alexander) were complementary to the show, and the curtain call was refreshingly orchestrated. Hospitality opening night was superb, serving armadillo cupcakes and other recipes from the script.
Visit the gals a spell at Truvy’s salon, Forge Theatre, where beauty and backbone meet, for some delightful dish and drama!
Written by Robert Harling
Directed by Gregory Morton
March 1 – 16, 2013
243 1st Ave
Phoenixville, PA 19460