The Brown County Playhouse opens its season with Robert Harling’s tear stained comedy "Steel Magnolias" directed by Dale McFadden. The play is built around a southern beauty shop where six women come to share their hopes, fears, gripes and plenty of laughs.
The characters of "Steel Magnolias" are boldly drawn and there are very accomplished performances by all. I especially enjoyed Carmen Rae Meyers as the mother of the tragic Shelby played by Stephanie Dodge, Mary Carol Johnson as the upright and dryly witty widow of the former mayor and Diane Kondrat as the salty old battle-axe, Ouiser. Allison Batty as Truvy and Jessica Krueger as her assistant presided with professional grace over the salon.
The humor of "Steel Magnolias" is wide ranging. Macho males, hunting, fashions, marriage and even Public Radio come in for attention in a show that’s full of witty one-liners. At the core of the play is the tragedy of the young diabetic bride Shelby. Shelby’s body can’t take childbirth and rejects the donation of her own mother’s kidney. The portrait of Shelby was inspired by the death of playwright Robert Harling’s sister.
There were plenty of tears but they are more than balanced by the laughter and the hope that these six vital ladies show. The production itself, simply never makes a misstep
"Steel Magnolias," Robert Harling’s play of "laughter through tears" plays Wednesdays through Sundays at the Brown County Playhouse through July 4th.
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