Laughter through tears. Based on a true to life experience, Steel Magnolias is a wonderful comedic story of family, friends, community and the love that sustains them when tragedy strikes and challenges them to rise up against it. Everyone is unique; everyone has their own way of being; and everyone has their own way of coping. Beautiful symmetry of these characters formulates the recipe for them to accept and carry on with life "the way it was meant to be."
This story takes place in Truvy’s Beauty Salon, in a small but affluent town in Louisiana in the 1980s. Prominent women of the town love Truvy’s (played by versatile Theatre Cambrian veteran Angel Mannisto) style and warm, loving character that she showers on all the people in her life. Clairee, the former mayor’s wife; Oisser (pronounced Weezer) Boudreau, a two-time divorcee that "has more money than God"; Annelle, a fresh, top of her class valedictorian hair-stylist, hired at the last minute to fill Judy’s place; M’Lynn Eatonton, a career woman and mother of Shelby, a 25-year-old diabetic woman who is about to marry Jackson Latcherie, all frequent Truvy’s salon and keep their thumb on the happenings in the small town of Chinquapin Parish.
You can’t help but love each and every character, even the ornery Oisser Boudreau (sassily played by Theatre Cambrian veteran, K.C. Rautiainen), who shows the world the worst that she has to offer, but underneath, Oisser is really softer than butter.
Oisser and Clairee (Kim Richer) have been friends all their lives and have weathered everything life has to offer. Clairee can’t help but tease, tease, tease Oisser. But without this relationship, life wouldn’t be the same. Poor Annelle (innocently played by new face to the Theatre Cambrian stage, Dana Bisschops) is put to the strength-of-character test when confronted by Oisser, who is convinced that Annelle has a backbone, and she’s going to find it. M’Lynn (another new face to Theatre Cambrian, Jody MacDonald), ever doting mother of Shelby (played by Rachelle St-Denis), does all she can to protect and nurture her daughter into a beautiful, loving woman. Shelby, a diabetic all her life, strives to be independent and dreams of having multiple children and growing old with her children and grandchildren all around her. She is confronted with the knowledge that it is best for her not to have any children as this will seriously compromise her survival.
M’Lynn, always concerned and the one to "worry enough for the both of us," as Shelby would say, has striven to create an environment that is optimal for Shelby’s survival but is confronted with her worst nightmare — Shelby is pregnant. M’Lynn is forced to face the dream that she has had for her own children — all she has ever wanted was for them to be happy. Being pregnant is what will make Shelby happy, and she would love, "30 minutes of wonderful rather than a life-time of nothing special."
Shelby’s dream comes true, and she is a mother of a wonderful baby boy, but not without some complications. M’Lynn does all she can to continue her pursuit for Shelby’s survival, and moves forward by donating one of her kidneys. The transplant fails, and Shelby is back on dialysis.
One fateful day everything goes wrong — Shelby’s life is compromised in the ultimate sense. M’Lynn is confronted with the outcome. Thankfully, with Clairee’s own special brand of humour and the help of her friends at Truvy’s Shop, she manages to capture a perspective that Shelby would have hoped. For this reason, they have been given the name of Steel Magnolias, the Strong Delicates.
Theatre Cambrian is presenting Steel Magnolias at the Jubilee Centre on Applegrove Street) July 20, 21, and 26-28. Tickets, which include a dinner catered by Diana’s Catering, cost $48. Tickets for this production can be purchased at the Theatre Cambrian office located at 40 Eyre St. or by phoning 705-524-7317.
For more information on Steel Magnolias or on any upcoming Theatre Cambrian production, visit theatrecambrian.ca.
Posted by Laurel Myers