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Osbourn High Steel Magnolias

By • Oct 27th, 2008 • Category: Cappies

“Laughter through tears is my favorite emotion.” These words, spoken by Truvy Jones in the second act of Steel Magnolias by Robert Harling, could not do a better job summing up the performance Osbourn High’s lovable cast delivered. Equipped with a script full of one-line zingers and tear-jerking moments, the cast shined on stage, easing into their characters impressively and entertaining from start to finish.

Set in 1980’s Louisiana, Steel Magnolias is the story of six women in a beauty parlor. Below the surface of town gossip, hairspray, and humorous jabs at one another, the plot reveals the hardships faced by one of the girls, Shelby, as she copes with diabetes. Interaction between all of the ladies as they deal with Shelby’s changing life shows that they’re more than just beauty shop buddies: keeping each other afloat, they are practically family. Originally staged off-Broadway, this 1987 play was brought first to the big-screen in 1989, and then finally to Broadway itself in 2005.

The first thing you notice when the curtain opens, is the well-thought out set design. Antonio Camposano and Ashley McCusker did an amazing job bringing Truvy’s beauty parlor to life – even making sure that the hairdryer and faucets actually worked. Since the entire play takes place here, it was important to really bring it “to life,” and they definitely succeeded.

Is the lead role, Shelby’s mother M’Lynn, Molly Donahue is impeccable. Her emotions, ranging from facetious to heart-wrenched, are so vivid, she conjures images of one’s own mother. The second she stepped out on that stage, with the nuances of her expressions, she commanded attention.

The rest of the cast of characters are just as enjoyable to watch. MaryBeth McIvor as Shelby, was able to be at once delicate and forceful. Her relationship with M’Lynn is very believable, even when only one of them is on stage, and the dynamic between them seems to be the pivot that Steel Magnolias revolves around. Trudy Jones, played by Anissa Felix, is an unceasingly entertaining host, exuding the type of bubbly, big sister charm one would expect from a beauty shop owner, and Anissa brings Trudy’s Southern belle wisdom to the stage with a warm smile and bright laugh.

Anelle, the new girl in town, is played by Carley Wilson. This character is one of the hardest to play, because although she has fewer lines, she goes through the most changes, careening from the timid, clueless new hairdresser to the steadfast Christian to the mother-to-be, offering insight for all the girls. Carley does a great job showing the evolution of this character through not only her line deliveries, but her mannerisms and presence as well. The two most comedic roles, Clairee and Ouiser, are portrayed hilariously by Tiffany Byrd and Grace Donovan, respectively. Tiffany’s brilliant deadpan and Grace’s tough-as-nails attitude pack a punch, and some of their best lines will leave you laughing long after the curtain closes.

The title of the play comes from the idea that these women are as “delicate as magnolias, but tough as steel” and there is no doubt that the actresses of Osbourn High, too, are exactly that.

by Jodie Awudetsey of South County Secondary

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