REVIEW: Steel Magnolias

Number eight of ten in Ottawa Little Theatre’s 100th anniversary celebration is another play that was turned into a movie shortly after. Steel Magnolias, last produced by OLT in the 80s, is a comedy/drama by Robert Harling.

Should you see it?

Set entirely in a beauty parlour in small town Louisianna, Steel Magnolias is about the friendship and community between a group of women. It’s the kind of play without any particular driving plot that propels itself forward just bringing you into the lives of these six women (over the course of three years).

It’s a funny play blended with drama and tragedy. It’s about life in a small town and women making the best of the hand they were dealt. It’s about relationships and the bonds that connect us even through our different situations. It’s a play about life and about life simply going on.

The strength of Steel Magnolia is the six women in the play. We’re brought into their lives through their conversations and banter. We’re made to care and made to feel that we’re a part of their community. We like them and we’d like to know them.

So when heartbreak hits, you can both feel sadness along with the women while still feeling hope that life will keep on keepin’ on.

Here in Ottawa Little Theatre’s Production, the six-woman cast all do a fine job bringing their characters and their stories to life. Suzanne Costanza (Truvy) has the needed motherly quality as the owner of the beauty parlour the action all takes place in. Kirby Naftel (Annelle) has a sweet sincerity as the new hire in the parlour who starts off unsure if her recent marriage is even legal and soon ends up a born again Christian. Linda Webster (M’Lynn) and Chandel Gambles (Shelby) have wonderful energy and chemistry as the mother-daughter duo who experience the highest highs and lowest lows together. Maureen Quinn McGovern plays Clairee, one of the town’s older citizens whose physical age betrays a young heart and free spirit. And Charlotte Stewart (who I last saw and loved in Lost in Yonkers) plays the saucy Ousier who easily has some of the best lines in the show.

There is a movie version of Steel Magnolias but there’s no better way to laugh with and feel connected to the women of this story than to remove the barriers and experience it in person right along with them.

But that’s just my opinion and I’d love to know what you think. Did this show manage to pull at your heart strings? Did you prefer the movie version? Let me know in the comments below. Let’s chat.

Steel Magnolias runs until June 15th. You can find more information including ticket info and links to other media in our preview article.

Allan Mackey

About Allan Mackey

Allan Mackey is editor-in-chief of Production Ottawa, which, really, is too fancy a title. He also acts as show producer for Should You See It, making sure you get your answer in just about two minutes every time. He writes stuff and occasionally turns that stuff into movies. Keep being awesome!