Steel Magnolias, first performed off-Broadway in 1987, is the story of six women who come together in a small-town beauty salon in Louisiana who prove that female friendship conquers all. Facing the highs and lows of love and life amongst the chaos of work, marriage and children, they unite to gossip, unwind and set the world to rights. It is a funny and heart-warming play, based on a true story, which enjoyed huge global success in the 1989 film adaptation starring Dolly Parton and Julia Roberts. This April the tour is visiting The New Theatre in Cardiff on its last leg of an extensive UK tour from the 18th to 22nd April!
I’m not crazy, M’Lynn, I’ve just been in a very bad mood for 40 years!-Ouiser-
The Steel Magnolias
The six main characters bring to life the story of friendship, love, fun, and strength as they regale memories gone by as well as dealing with bigger issues in the present. Featuring an all-female ensemble cast comprises Laura Main (best known as Shelagh Turner in BBC One’s Call the Midwife), Lucy Speed (known for her television roles on EastEnders and The Bill, and as a new cast member on BBC Radio 4’s The Archers), Harriet Thorpe (best known for her role as Carole Parkinson in The Brittas Empire and Fleur in Absolutely Fabulous), Diana Vickers (The X Factor star who has gone on to lead roles in many theatre productions including Dial M For Murder and The Rise and Fall of Little Voice), Elizabeth Ayodele (Playboy of the West Indies) and Caroline Harker (A Touch of Frost), they take you on the journey through the good, the bad, and the ugly.
Well, we went skinny dipping and we did things that frightened the fish.-Shelby-
What Does the Cast Think?
Laura, who plays M’Lynn (Shelby’s mum) believes that one of the main strengths of the stage show is that it finds humour at some of the darkest moments, “Here is a bunch of women who deal with life’s ups and downs and who draw comfort from one another”.
“Steel Magnolias is a beautifully written piece,” says Caroline Harker who plays Clairee, the former town First Lady, “which makes you laugh and cry and demonstrates that, whatever crosses your path, life goes on. Despite what happens, it’s not at all doom-laden; in fact, I’d say it’s uplifting”.
Harriet, who plays Oiuser credits the success of Steel Magnolias to the authentic feel portrayed by the play, stating, “What makes this story come alive is that all the characters are drawn from life”.
Well, you know what they say: if you don’t have anything nice to say about anybody, come sit by me!-Clairee-
It is always hard to separate the stage performance from the film with any adaptations of this sort. If you love the film, then you may be a little jarred by the lack of set changes and no supporting cast.
I enjoyed Steel Magnolias with it being funny in parts and emotional in others. The six actresses worked hard to sustain the audience and dialogue between them for the duration, managing to keep the audience engaged.
In parts it was difficult to hear (low voices and mics not loud enough) as well as the southern drawl being over emphasised a bit too much in places. The very fast pace of the conversations on stage made it hard to keep up sometimes, so if you are not familiar with the film you may miss a few jokes or facts here and there.
I’m glad the stage play has kept in some of the iconic quotes as they add the personal connects between the characters. Overall, I would say it is worth watching.
It’s not too late to book your tickets, but hurry as Steel Magnolias are only in Cardiff until 22nd April!
Smile! It increases your face value.-Truvy-
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