A hallmark card that verses the endless boundaries of friendship. We review the stunning Steel Magnolias, now showing at The Alexandra Theatre, Birmingham.
Never underestimate the happenings inside a beauty parlour! Deep in the south of Louisiana lies Chinquapin, a small town where Truvy’s salon reigns as the local hotspot for beauty treatments, big hair and idle gossip. Telling the story of six friends, Steel Magnolias takes us on a journey of laughter, devastation and showcases the sheer magnitude and power of friendship.
Originally written by Robert Harling after losing his sister to a devastating battle with Diabetes, the play was first performed off-Broadway in 1987 before becoming the ‘Golden Girls’ hit film in 1989. Boasting a stellar cast including the likes of Dolly Parton, Sally Field, Shirley MacLaine, and a baby-faced Julia Roberts, the movie is a firm favourite and begs to be watched on a Sunday afternoon whilst encased in a knitted blanket and clasping a mug of Horlicks!
Through an appointment of course, we meet Truvy (played by Lucy Speed), the salon owner and her recently appointed assistant, Anelle (Elizabeth Ayodele). There’s a busy day ahead as blushing bride Shelby (Diana Vickers) arrives at Truvy’s the morning of her wedding alongside her mother, M’Lynn (Laura Main) to get their ‘hayyyur’ done. The play gives a truly realistic depiction of everyday life and perfectly offers insight to the characters lives outside of the shop.
Miss Clairee Belcher is played by Caroline Harker, and perfectly captures the graceful yet fun nuances of the character, originally donned by Olympia Dukakis in the movie. Her partner in crime, Ouiser, is a loveable misery and their chalk and cheese relationship brings many laughs and special moments throughout the performance.
Through many manicures and perms, we join the ladies over a two year period, which is perfectly showcased through the seasons. The simple decorations and effective costume changes never shying away from the 80’s timeframe.
Lucy Speed shines as the loveable Southern Belle and her accent is a treat. I was pleasantly surprised by Diana Vickers, the way she takes Shelby from a naive youngster into a strong, defiant woman is really impressive.
This bittersweet chocolate box is a stunning piece of theatre, evoking many emotions that will leave you reminiscing out on the porch for nights to come.