Theater Info for the Washington DC region

Noble Heart Steel Magnolias

By • Aug 11th, 2007 • Category: Reviews

Listen to Lisa Kay Morton’s review of Noble Heart’s Production of Steel Magnolias [MP3 3:36 1MB].

Lisa Kay: Last night I attended Noble Heart’s Production of Steel Magnolias (by by Robert Harling) at the Black Box Theater in Indian Head, MD. I wanted to make an appointment for a wash and set but didn’t know if my air would put up with all that teasing.

Welcome to Truvvy’s beauty salon in Chinquapin Parish, Louisiana. It is Nineteen Eighty something and Noble Heart Theater is presenting Robert Harling’s bittersweet comedy Steel Magnolias.

Back to the teasing thing — Steel Magnolia’s is at it for the entire show. The 6 women ensemble are relentless at gossiping, cajoling, and encouraging one another all while change hairstyles, shampooing, highlighting, and teasing the heck out of their hair…
Though often considered a “chick play” with a cast of six women, this production is likable and witty, regardless of the audience’s gender.

The play covers nearly three years in the lives of six women. Each of the four scenes takes place many months after the last, and thanks to some very smooth dialogue, (and great scene changes) we learn everything that has gone on.

Steel Magnolia’s is attitude-heavy with loads of Southern talk. Someone is described as not having opposable thumbs; someone says she looks “like a dog’s dinner”; someone is said to be so confused, “he doesn’t know whether to scratch his watch or wind his butt”; someone else is troubled, but it’s “nothing a handful of prescription drugs couldn’t cure.” but the cliché’s don’t distract from the relational integrity being played out on stage.

Lynne Thorne did well thought-out work onstage-creating a likeable character while creating some really good hairstyles onstage. Her character was an important part of the balance of most of the scenes, pointing attention and focus to the ever changing drama in the salon.

Newcomer Angela Brockunier was delightful as the hardheaded heroine, Shelby… A headstrong, Type A diabetic Shelby validates her decision to have a life threatening pregnancy with, “I would rather have 30 minutes of wonderful than a lifetime of nothing special.” Ms. Brockunier was both charming and vulnerable.

Ouiser –Bridget O’Neill loves her dog, Rhett, more than any human and admits that she’s not crazy, but has just “been in a bad mood for forty years.” Ms. O’Neill, who has enough charisma to be a one woman show herself , was outstanding.

Lauren Kennedy as Anelle didn’t let my personal problems get in the way of her “doing good hair” and created a magical, multi-layered character. Miss Kennedy’s character never waivered- it was the most consistent performance of the show.

Clairee-Tara Cardano the eccentric millionaire recent widow, the south’s biggest football fan and she spits out one-liners with the best of them was delightful as was Sheila K Draper (M’Lynn) the local social worker who adores and will do anything for her daughter Shelby. Ms. Draper transcended her past work in other shows, (which has been consistently very good) to some stellar moments in the final scene. It is a big step emotionally and intellectually for an actress to step into deep waters and leave what is safe on the shore but it happened for a few magic moments at the Black Box.

Kudo’s to Director Cindy Johnson for presenting one of the best ensemble pieces in recent history at the Black Box. The production is beautifully and believably cast…the ladies each brought a distinct and appropriate flavor to this tasty southern dish.

Steel Magnolias closes Sunday August 12th. Ticket information is available at

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works nationally and internationally as an opera singer, coach, teacher, conductor and stage director. She is the CEO of Saltnote Stageworks, a non-profit corporation that promotes education & performance opportunities for emerging artists.

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