|The cast of Steel Magnolias at Beaverton Civic Theatre|
Photos by Ammon Riley
By Tina Arth and Darrell Baker
Beaverton Civic Theatre’s second show of the season, Steel Magnolias, is further evidence that 2013 is going to be a great year for this company. The show is a community theater favorite, and for good reason – there are six great roles for strong women, and the set is minimal since the entire show takes place (over an 18-month period) in Truvy’s, a Louisiana beauty parlor catering to a select clientele of wealthy but eccentric local women (none of your “Kut and Kurl” Kwickies here!). Audiences come already somewhat familiar with the story, courtesy of the hit movie, and the actors get to deliver lots of snappy Southern humor but still have the opportunity to deal with serious dramatic themes. Director Tony Bump has taken the show’s potential and actualized it into a really solid dramedy that keeps the audience laughing where they should laugh, while bringing them close to tears in key scenes.
Truvy (Arleen Daugherty) anchors the show as the owner of “Truvy’s
Beauty” (slogan: “There is no such thing as natural beauty!”). More than a
beautician, she is confidante and hostess to a group of wealthy and eccentric
long-time friends who meet every Saturday to gossip while Truvy and her
assistant, Annelle (Rebecca Cline) cut, color, roll and tease them into shape
for the week to come. Daugherty walks a fine line – she manages to convey a
working-class background while still seeming socially equal to her
clientele/friends, and she delivers some of the evening’s best one-liners. The
role of white trash is left to Annelle, Truvy’s new assistant who stumbles into
the shop in search of a job to take the place of her lost husband and home.
Cline manages Annelle’s transition from naïve wallflower to born-again zealot
with comic aplomb, and her silent prayers in Act II provide some gentle humor.
|Rebecca Cline as Annelle|
April Hendricks and Jeneé Fahndrich portray mother M’Lynn Eatenton and her daughter, Shelby. The story revolves around
’s transition from fiancée to wife to
mother and beyond. Fahndrich plays Shelby
with a perfect mixture of strength and vulnerability as she refuses to bend to
her mother’s will and the physical limitations imposed by her debilitating
diabetic condition. Her Act I seizure and subsequent physical decline are
handled believably, without undue histrionics. Hendricks displays the widest emotional
range in the cast, displaying more than any other character the steely,
stiff-upper lip code of her cohort until the end, when for a few minutes she
lets down her façade of control and succumbs to the agony of losing her
Ouiser (Lauren Bronson) and Clairee (Jane Vogel) provide
constant comic relief, and it is their unwavering friendship that gives M’Lynn
a lifeline when she finally cracks. Both actresses have great timing and
delivery, and they get the lion’s share of the evening’s laughs.
|April Hendricks as M’Lynn Eatenton|
The set is effective – just elaborate and tacky enough to convey the ambience of a Southern beauty parlor. Costumes were appropriate to the characters’ personalities, and really enhanced the production. Opening night, scene changes in both acts were a bit awkward, possibly because of simultaneous costume changes. This minor glitch may be smoother in future performances, but in any case in no way diminished the full-house audience’s appreciation of the show.
Beaverton Civic Theatre is presenting Steel Magnolias through Sunday, May 12th at the Beaverton City Library Auditorium. Ticket and show information is available at www.BeavrtonCivicTheatre.org.
|The set of Steel Magnolias|