Laughter and Tears in “Steel Magnolias”
By Skip Sheffield
Tears underlie the laughter of “Steel Magnolias,” the Robert Harling comedy running through April 20 at the Wick Theatre, 7901 N. Federal Highway, Boca Raton.
Playwright Robert Harling based “Steel Magnolias” on the memory of his sister, who died in 1985 of complications of diabetes after a transplanted kidney was rejected by her body.
No, it does not sound like a laugh riot, but “Steel Magnolias” is a comedy with drama and heart. Harling loves and admires the women of Truvy’s Beauty Salon, recreated meticulously by Sean McClelland for his first Wick in-house set.
The set is almost like a seventh member of the all-woman cast because it is so important to the lives of these lively northern Louisiana belles, to whom physical appearance is of utmost importance.
And what is a more important occasion than a wedding to look one’s best?
Shelby (Alison McCarton) is eagerly anticipating her impending nuptials with Jackson Latcherie, who is never seen. We imagine Jackson must be quite a guy to land such a sweet and lovely girl.
Truvy Jones (Patti Eyler) is the feisty owner of the beauty salon where the women regularly meet.
Annelle (Linda Farmer) is the new girl in town. She is a bit shy and insecure, but she will blossom over the course of the three years of the story.
Clairee (Sally Bondi) is a bridge-builder with the negative, curmudgeonly Ouiser (Robin Proett Olson).
Shelby’s mother M’Lynn (Aaron Bower) may be the steeliest of all these magnolias, as we learn by her selfless actions in Act Two.
Director Norb Joerder has cast with an eye for beauty and thespian skill. Because this play is so “talky,” it is essential the players are deadly accurate with their timing and delivery. Yes they are.
Playwright Robert Harling earned a law degree from Tulane University, but became an actor and writer instead. We are the better for it. Though Harling is screenwriter for the popular films “Soapdish,” “First Wives Club” and “Laws of Attraction,” “Steel Magnolias” remains his magnum opus. It is a touching tribute to his late sister Susan.
Tickets are $58. Call 561-995-2333 or go to www.thewick.org.