Steel Magnolias

Steel Magnolias Is In Full Bloom At Workshop Players

Community Theatre

Review by: Kevin Kelly

Steel Magnolia. Noun. (plural steel magnolias) (chiefly Southern US). A woman who exemplifies both traditional femininities as well as an uncommon fortitude.

In 1987, in a part of processing loss himself, playwright Robert Harling wrote the comedy-drama Steel Magnolias. The play was inspired by the loss of his sister. In 10 days, he created a play which showed how tragic events can be assuaged by laughter and true friendships. As all of us know, in times of tragedy, sometimes well-timed humor can break the wall of despair with a much-needed laugh. Using real-life names in some cases, in fact, M'Lynn and Drum are actually his parents' name. The play unfolds beautifully with six incredible women telling the story.

The action is set Truvy's (Kathryn Dean-Dielman) popular beauty salon in Chinquapin, Louisiana. As the play opens, Trudy is being helped by a new resident named Annelle (Samantha Fisher), who has a secret herself. In comes the bride to be Shelby (Alicia Fogel), who needs fixing up for her wedding day. Soon they are joined by an eccentric millionaire Miss Clairee (Bernadette Hisey), and Shelby's mother M'Lynn (Melissa Hubbard). Last to arrive is Ouiser (Mary Manos Mitchem), a female hurricane of inappropriate sentiment. She probably needs a publicist to remind her "you might not want to say that". What happens within the beauty shop is a 3-year journey that explores their relationships as they engage in much joy and laughter and ultimately immense loss.

I really enjoyed this production Director Judy MacKeigan did a great job casting and keeping the pace brisk. The players performed in the round, and MacKeigan staged movement with deft visibility. What I love about this ensemble is that they create such a unique charm, so you are transported to small-town realness and a charming essence.

Dean-Dielman is a blast, just as you want her to be. Sassy and firing one-liners like it's her job. Fisher is perfect. Such a strong sense of timing and pure character quality. Fogal brings a youthful quality to Shelby. She creates a strong confident woman, whose strength can handle adversity without succumbing to it. Mitchem stomps around the set like a grumpy southern power ranger, to great delight. very fun character. Hisey is a seasoned pro. She is delightful and confident and her acting chops were on full display. I have a standard about Steel Magnolias, for me, the play swims or sinks based on the delivery of M'Lynns last monologue. "I can report" that Hubbard crushes that speech with wicked honesty and truth. Now there are times when it did seem that there were momentary pauses,  but those moments were recovered quickly by picking up efficiently and staying in character. I want to complement the cast for never breaking the fourth. Beautiful job,

Stage Manager Julie Marchand called a great show. Dave MacKeigan took on triple duty with the design of lighting, sound, and set. Great execution. Designed enabling fluid movement. Only lighting point I have is the solo spot in the lights out scene. I didn't get that. With sound. I would've liked the gunshots and barking to be a bit louder. Overall, great job.

This is a terrific production, in which the location of the theatre itself enhances the experience.
Very welcoming staff.

Luckily I don't have to "walk on my lips" to tell you, that this production is a winner.

Cleveland Stage Alliance
Ticket Information
and Promotional Materials

Thru March 25

7:30pm Fridays
7:30pm Saturdays
3pm Sundays 

$15 General Admission

(440) 988-5613

Workshop Players
44820 Middle Ridge Road
Amherst, OH 44001