"Steel Magnolias" opened at the Okoboji Summer Theatre with a story, set and bevy of actors that were bound to leave a lasting impression on us all.
The set was designed by Ken George and was so authentic to a beauty shop in the mid-1980's that it was amazing.
Jeannie Marlin Woods came from her job as artistic director at Starry Night Repertory Theatre in Illinois to direct a cast of two professional actors and four student actors in a story well-known to most all of us.
Then play centers around six women in a Louisiana beauty shop. Truvy Jones is the shop owner and head stylist. Stephens college student Cheyenne Hensley drew the role. She did a commendable job of playing a women with grown children. She had to age 20 years for the role and was believable.
Student Regina Solidum was adorable as Annelie Dupuy-Desoto. She was so innocent and lost that we all wanted to help from the very beginning.
Kelli Harrington is a voice teacher in the music department at the Chicago Academy for the Arts. We did not have the opportunity to hear her sing as "Steel Magnolias" is a play, not a musical. However her role as the gray-haired wealthy socialite Claire Belcher was well played.
The story is about a young lady with diabetes who bears a child and suffers kidney failure. Student Denise Angieri was very good as Shelby Eatenton-Latcherie. Angieri gave her character just the right amount of sweetness combined with grit and determination.
Shelby's mother, M'Lynn Eatenton was portrayed by student Colleen O'Brien. This was a challenging role for someone so young having to play a woman of the age to become a grandmother. Most of the evening she did very well. At times those of us in the back third of the theatre had trouble hearing her. O'Brien has great promise as an actor and I look forward to seeing her again in other roles.
Ouiser (pronounced weezer) Boudreaux is my favorite character in the play. Professional Lauren Miller acts primarily in Illinois productions. She came here to play the feisty, plain-spoken, independent woman and gave her a unique personality. To Ouiser, the glass is only half full but her friends at the beauty shop support her anyway.
These women all created a bond, a strong friendship, in spite of their differences in age and social status. Even the men in the audience appreciated that bond although a couple of them came up to me after the show to tell me that they don't gossip like that at the barbershop. That may be true, but these guys obviously haven't stopped by the local elevator around coffee time in the morning!
"Steel Magnolias" is a beautiful, funny, endearing, and sad story that was well done by the cast and crew at OST. The play runs through Sunday evening with two performances on Saturday.