Chatham Community Players’ “Steel Magnolias,” by Robert Harling, is a reminder that, while flowers might seem delicate, in order to bloom there had to be a lot of manure to make the beauty we see before us. Truvy (Anna Cave) has a salon in Chinquapin, Louisiana that is the social hub of the town. She has just put Annelle (Erin Feith) through a hands-on interview and we literally see Annelle’s first moments on the job. It’s Saturday, the day Truvy saves for her most regular regulars, her besties. Shelby (Nicole Boscarino) is the belle du jour–it’s her wedding day when we meet her and the rest of the regulars at Truvy’s carport-turned-salon, so we are looking at a true family, some bound by blood, all bound by love. Shelby’s getting the full treatment as the Bride and we get a glimpse of the heart of each of the women we will come to know so well.
M’Lynn (Lynn Langone) is Shelby’s mother, and through conversations they have among the other women and alone, we learn that Shelby’s had health issues. She’s also got a heaping helping of determination, and the best way for her to go against your recommendations is to make them. She has a path ahead of her and that row will be tough to hoe, but she’s set her mind to it, and that’s that. Clairee (Barbara Haag) is the wit among the crew, who has an acerbic way of expressing her laser view of exactly what will make her friends laugh, and shines a bright light on all their foibles, especially the curmudgeon of the group, Ouiser (Jodi Freeman Maloy).
Harling wrote this play, about the death of his sister, in 1987. The iconic film was made in 1989, with Julia Roberts, and another in 2012, with Queen Latifah. There is something so elemental about this story of the determination and strength of women. Magnolias seem like delicate flowers, but the struggle is real! We see Annelle’s search for her true self, though through each incarnation, her heart glows constant. We see how Truvy is the one who does her best to continue to mend the relationships and emotions around her. Clairee uses her with to keep a certain distance, even while she reaches out with the small touches that show a friend’s love. Ouiser is a Warhead candy–sour on the outside, but so very sweet inside. She’s been hurt, yet when in the bosom of her buddies, she comes to life and can speak her truth.
M’Lynn and Shelby go a full three rounds. Their love is evident in every moment, but when Shelby tells M’Lynn she’s pregnant with the first grandchild, you can see the chill go over M’Lynn like Cassandra’s premonition of the war with Troy. And like Cassandra’s audience, Shelby does not believe in her mother’s prescience. When M’Lynn’s greatest fears come to pass, it is a scene for which you will want to have hankies ready.
Who are your besties? Give them the gift of live theatre you will all be talking about for years to come. Go to Chatham Community Players’ website at www.ChathamPlayers.org
to reserve NOW! Plan your night out soon, as this play is only happening through March 10!