Playwright Robert Harling has captured the indomitable spirits of six women in Steel Magnolias. Each woman has her own story, faces her own challenges and rises above them.
This is an inspirational piece of work, portrayed with charm and warmth by Blackbird Production. Six Australian actresses have beautifully portrayed each character.
Such was the universal appeal of this small town American story that it was made into an Award winning film in 1989 with a cast of eminent Hollywood actresses including Julia Roberts, Shirley MacLaine, Sally Field, Dolly Parton, Daryl Hannah and Olympia Dukakis.
Initially, it is hard not to make comparisons, but they don’t last long. As Robert Harling states himself “the cast members of this production are just as inspiring as the characters they portray”.
This play is set in a converted garage in small-town Southern America. Director Darren Yap has kept the 1980s theme and Production Designer Graham Maclean has produced an appealing and authentic set.
The garage is the salon of the warm-hearted hairdresser Truvy Jones, played with aplomb by Jacki Weaver. Weaver portrays Truvy’s incorrigible romanticism with humour, while also giving glimpses of the pathos that underlies this character’s ongoing optimism.
Ana Maria Belo is outstanding as salon assistant Annelle Dupuy-Desoto, whose search for emotional stability runs the gamut from wild partying, to Christian camps before finally realizing the solace to be found in true friendship.
Marian Frizelle takes on the role of Shelby Eetenton-Latcherie with assurance, portraying a sweetness and a penchant for pink that is enchanting. Debra Lawrance portrays Shelby’s mother M’Lynn with depth and passion. Her’s is a powerful performance.
Geraldine Turner is a crowd-pleaser with her portrayal of the obstreperous Ouiser Boudreaux and Jennifer Hagan is delicious as the recently bereaved widow who finds her strength, compassion and humour as a single woman.
This is small-town America and everyone knows everyone’s business. The setting is the ideal showpiece for the interactions of these six amazing women. Gossip intermingles with heart-felt exchanges; humour is interlaced with pathos; and neighbourliness entwines with friendship.
Each woman has her own story of hardship, and each lightens her burden through the inspirational bonds of friendship, and the levity of humour. This is a tender, witty, and astute play, a wonderful vehicle for the talents of Weaver, Turner, Hagan, Belo, Lawrance and Frizelle.
Blackbird Productions presents
by Robert Harling
Director Darren Yap
Venue: Her Majesty's Theatre | 58 Grote Street, Adelaide
Dates: 20 - 27 November
Tickets: Adult $59.00