Steel Magnolias at St Luke’s Players October 8-19, 2014. A Review.

Steel Magnolias at St Luke’s Players October 8-19, 2014. A review.

Steel Magnolias currently at St Luke’s Players (October 8-19, 2014), written by Robert Harlin in 1989 and based on his real-life experience and family tragedy, has lost none of its charm or poignancy.

At a time when many city dwellers struggle to find satisfactory “third places” to connect on a regular basis, where coffee shops have replaced churches, this story of six southern women, who meet regularly at the hair salon, tugs at heart strings.

Steel Magnolias St Luke's Players Victoria BC October 2014

Truvy Jones (Elizabeth Brimacombe) commands her world from the garage-turned-studio and reserves Saturday mornings for her closest friends and neighbours.  Gathered here, they gossip, chide and regale one another with stories and unknown tidbits of their lives.  They’ve watched bride-to-be Shelby Eatenton-Latcherie (Brittany Raper) grow up, feel special pride on her wedding day and can relate to the frustrations expressed by her mother M’Lynn (Sandy Weinmeyer).

Outsider Annelle Dupuy-Desoto (Dianne Currie) has to navigate the long-standing ties and intricacies of small-town alliances as the new employee and grande dame Clairee Belcher (Pati-Ann Lawe), widow of the former mayor, holds forth. Local crank Ouiser Boudreaux (Hilary F. Allan) has an opinion on everything and isn’t afraid to share it.

Not many of us live like this anymore, intimately connected on a daily or weekly basis to the goings-on in the lives of others. The rhythm is slow and the connections are vast. Character is judged. Yet, underneath there is the sense of a deep, abiding appreciation and love for one another.

The action may turn around Truvy but all the characters clearly and realistically develop over the two-and-a-half year span of the show. Sandy Weinmeyer (M’Lynn) begins as a rather mousy mother-of-the-bride who is changed into a she-wolf consumed with grief at her inability to shield her child. There wasn’t a dry eye in the house.  Dianne Currie (Annelle) has the innate ability, even as she attempts to hide in the corner, of conveying the depths of confusion and alarm. Newcomer Brittany Raper plays Shelby as a quietly graceful and determined young woman.

Steel Magnolias, under the direction of Don Keith (and Michael King), is a lovely and subtle tribute to an era and a world where friendship trumps life’s challenges.

Lisa Preston’s set design is reminiscent of any neighbourhood salon I’ve ever frequented and Ann Harris (Set Décor) has tracked down every possible accoutrement to add authenticity. Costumes by Pearl Arden and Jane Krieger take us back to the time of frills and big hair when “Colour theory” was all the rage. Mitch Barnes’ mix of zydeco and 80s hits is evocative and catchy.  Carol-Anne Moore reminds us of the importance of lighting, particularly in the blown-fuse scene.

This is a strong beginning for the 66th season of St Luke’s Players. Thanks to all the extremely committed volunteers who continue to reach out to the community by providing quality theatre. The house was packed on opening night. It would be wise to get tickets now. (And don’t forget that tickets to the Christmas panto go on sale at usual outlets on November 20th).

St. Luke’s Players presents:
Steel Magnolias by Robert Harling, directed by Don Keith
October 8-19, 2014 at St Luke’s Hall (Cedar Hill X Rd at Cedar Hill Rd)
October 8,9,10,11,15,16,17,18 at 7:30pm
October 11, 12, 18 and 19 at 2pm

please note the new evening performance start time of 7:30 pm

Tickets $15/13 at the door or in advance at the following outlets:

Ivy’s Book Shop
2188 Oak Bay Avenue
(250) 598-2713
Mon-Sat 9:30-6, Sun 12-5

Petals Plus Florist
3749 Shelbourne Street
(250) 721-1992
Mon-Sat 9-5

Russell Books
734 Fort Street
(250) 361-4447
Mon-Sat 9-5:30, Sun 11-5

Dig This (Broadmead)
#480 – 777 Royal Oak Drive
(250) 727-9922
Mon-Sat 9:30-5:30, Sun 11-5


Disclaimer: I was offered a complimentary ticket to attend Steel Magnolias.

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