The play opens as a tight-knit group of Southern women celebrate the pending nuptials of one of their own. M’Lynn’s daughter Shelby is getting her hair done in Truvy’s beauty salon with only a few hours to go until she ties the knot. The rest of the show follows the women as they meet up at Truvy’s to gossip and gab under hairdryers. Their relationships delve deeper than the surface jokes and when tragedy strikes and they realize there’s no one they would rather turn to than each other for support.
Though “Steel Magnolias” originally started as a play, most people know it best through the 1989 film of the same name. Unlike the movie, the men are wholly absent from the stage version. The only characters are the six very different women who create a relaxed atmosphere so friendly that you could be hanging out with your own group of friends.
Shelby (Emily Lantz) is the youngest of the crew and her passion for life (and the color pink) oozes out of her with every breath. Ouiser and Clairee definitely get the lion’s share of perfect one-liners, making their interaction endlessly entertaining. They playfully poke fun at each other as only the oldest friends can. Ouiser, played by June McCarty, is cranky delight and Clairee (Pamela Kingsley) is the ying to her yang, an older southern belle with a spunky side.
The set is a dated beauty parlor. Ryan Koharchik nails the tiniest detail, from the linoleum flooring to the 1980s hairstyles framed on the walls. It could be any salon in the south a few decades ago. Robert J. Sorbera’s direction makes this production a great fit for the Civic Theatre. The women are relatable and the plot is a well-balanced mix of comedy and drama.
The first half of the show lulls you into a sweet comforting cocoon before reminding you that life can throw a hell of a curve ball, but your friends will be there to support you when it happens. If your favorite emotion is, in Truvy’s words, “laughter through tears,” you’ll be right at home.
Don't Miss the Show
Performances: The show runs until Saturday, Feb. 22 Performances begin at 7 p.m. Wednesday through Friday, 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday. The Booth Tarkington Civic Theatre is located at 3 Center Green, Carmel, IN 46032 at the Center for the Performing Arts.
Tickets: Ticket prices range from $31.50 to $41.50 and can be purchased by calling (317) 923-4597 or visiting www.civictheatre.org.
Photos courtesy of Zach Rosing