Providence Players Steel MagnoliasBy Laura & Mike Clark • May 7th, 2008 • Category: Reviews
Listen to our review of the Providence Players’ production of Steel Magnolias [MP3 5:08 2.4MB].
James Lee Community Center Theater, Falls Church, VA
$15/$12 Seniors and Students
Through May 17th
Mike: Steel Magnolias is a play by Robert Harling. Steel Magnolias serves up a slice of life in Louisiana that’s as warm and comforting as sweet potato pie. In the haven of Truvy’s beauty salon, six very different women come together to share their secrets and bare their souls, throwing in a little neighborly gossip for good measure. Helped by her eager new assistant, Annelle, the outspoken, wise-cracking Truvy dispenses shampoos and free advice to the town’s elite. From weddings to divorces, babies to funerals, new beginnings to happy endings, they weather every event in their lives with grace, determination, and perfectly coifed hair.
The Cast: Beth Hughes-Brown (Ouiser), Liz Smith (Truvy), Courtney Fontaine (Annelle), Joyce Montgomery(Clairee), Beth Whitehead (M’Lynn), Amy Baska (Shelby).
Laura: This was a good show once everybody warmed to each other; they seemed to relax on stage as the scenes went on. It came together really well.
Mike: I had a good time at this show. It seemed like a pretty popular show to be done by community theaters, partially because it is an all female cast and also because it is it is a fun and touching show.
Laura: Shelby and M’Lynn were mother and daughter. Shelby was played by Amy Baska and M’Lynn was played by Beth Whitehead. They were strong women who did butt heads. There was a good example of that in the second scene of the first act. They also did balance each other well. Shelby did not come across as aggressive in some of the scenes as she could have been. M’Lynn’s closing scene maybe could have ben a little angrier. Yet overall they did a good job.
Mike: This is a show that would be very easy to turn into something sappy. None of the actresses were sappy. The emotions in the final scene were very high, but did not approach sappiness. It felt very real, if anything they were a little too subdued. It was not a bad thing to see some subdued emotions during that scene.
I like the relationship between Annelle and Truvy. It was another mother-daughter relationship almost, Annelle as the new hairdresser in town (played by Courtney Fontaine) and Truvy (played by Liz Smith). I liked how Truvy took Annelle under her wing by giving her advice and sharing with her Truvy’s philosophy of life. Watching the expressions of Courtney as she would ponder and then accept the rules to live by and live to do people’s hair by. It was good watching the change that Annelle went through throughout the show. Her personality changed in such different ways.
One of Annelle’s surprises was less of a surprise than I was expecting. It got no reaction when Annelle appeared on stage at the beginning of Act 2 Scene 2. I don’t know if the audience was ready for it or it was just underplayed a little bit. That low key reaction was something I was not ready for. Usually that scene gets a big response from the audience and there was not much of a response on Sunday.
Laura: The final two ladies of the neighborhood that came in for hair treatment on Saturday were Ouiser, played by Beth Hughes-Brown, and Clairee, the former mayor’s wife, played by Joyce Lynn Montgomery. They did OK once they warmed up. I felt like Clairee may have been a little bit flat in her dialogs with Ouiser and the other women in the shop. Ouiser was pretty funny. Her opening scene was not her best scene, but as she warmed up and got comfortable on stage she had some pretty good lines towards the end.
Mike: The set was designed and constructed by John Coscia. The room was a nice bright pink beauty parlor, definitely a haven for women to get away from the men in their lives. I liked the small touches of the dressing. The set dressing and decoration was done by Ingrid Helvig David. One thing I noticed were the pictures on the bulletin board kept changing so that the audience could see the different hairstyles. There were a few framed photos on one side as well as all the things needed to make women beautiful up on the shelves above.
Laura: One thing that I was a little disappointed with the set was that there was no working sink on stage. M’Lynn had to go off stage to get her hair wet.
Mike: Steel Magnolias ran two hours and twenty-five minutes with one intermission. It is playing at the James Lee Community Center in Falls Church, Virginia through May 17th. Friday and Saturday nights at 7:30 and a Sunday matinee on the 11th at 2 pm.
Laura: Once you’ve seen the show we would like to hear your comments. You can do that here at ShowBizRadio.net. We’d also like to invite you to join our free mailing list so you can stay informed with community theater events inn the DC region.
Mike: And now, on with the show.
- Shelby: Amy Baska
- Annelle: Courtney Fontaine
- Ouiser: Beth Hughes-Brown
- Clairee: Joyce Lynn Montgomery
- Truvy: Liz Smith
- M’Lynn: Beth Whitehead
- Director: Tina Hodge Thronson
- Technical Director: Chip Gertzog
- Technical Crew: Sarah Mournighan, Mario Font, Mark Ames, Mike Mattheisen, Gail Seavey
- Stage Manager: Mary Goss
- Stage Crew: April Bridgeman, Andrew Harrison, Roberta Lisker, Abel Sussman, Richard Vann
- Producer: Janet Bartelmay
- Set Design & Construction: John Coscia
- Set Crew: Matt Ames, Glen Bartram, Janet Bartelmay, Amy Baska, Beth Hughes-Brown, Tom Coscia, Larru Craven, Ingrid David, George DeMars, Joe Gargiulo, Andrew Garling, Craig Geoffrion, Debra Geoffrion, Chip Gertzog, Mike Gerwin, Kevin Harnisch, Beth Harrison, Glynis Mattheisen, Mike Mattheisen, Sarah Mournighan, Linday Paska, Janet Shadle, Liz Smith, Stephen Smith, Robbie Snow, Abel Sussman, Al Thompson, Tina Thronson, Beth Whitehead, David Whitehead
- Lighting & Sound Design: Chip Gertzog
- Prop Master: Doodie Brethwaite
- Properties: Kris Lahiff, Roberta Lisker
- Set Painting: Craig Geoffrion
- Set Decoration & Dressing: Ingrid Helvig David
- Costume Design: Robbie Snow
- Costume Assistants: Beth Harrison, Roberta Lisker, Jayne Victor, Araxie Vann
- Hair & Make Up Design: Beth Harrison
- Hair & Make Up Assistants: Mary Frances Dini, Robbie Snow
- House Management: Ann & Matt Ames
- Publicity: Gail Seavey, Barbra & Chip Gertzog
- Playbill: Cindy Paska
- Playbill Advertising: John Coscia, David Whitehead, Cindy Paska
- Photographer: Chip Gertzog
This article can be linked to as: http://washingtondc.showbizradio.com/goto/2276.
Laura & Mike Clark started ShowBizRadio in August 2005 because they love live theater. They each have both performed in and worked behind the scenes in DC area productions, as well as earned a Career Studies Certificate in Theater from Northern Virginia Community College. Mike & Laura are each members of the American Theatre Critics Association, and Mike is a member of the Online News Association.