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Steel Magnolias: Heartwarmer opens at the Little Theatre of Alexandria

Kirsten Obadal
By Kirsten Obadal
Posted on Sep 22,2016
Filed Under Entertainment , Local Style,

Brenda Parker (Clairee) and Carla Crawford (Truvy)

ALEXANDRIA, VA. - If you are of a certain age, you may recall the film version of Steel Magnolias.  Produced for the stage at the LTA, this play provides a glimpse into the sense of family and community and support that, ideally, characterizes life in small towns.  

Set in a small town in Louisiana, listening to the Southern cadences of the cast as they gossip, cry, and share daily life in a beauty salon is like getting clobbered with a pink featherduster.  It is much more than a salon, however—the women are a valuable support system for each other and sympathetic listening and counseling (and Kleenex tissues) are free to all comers.  It is somewhat nostalgic too, as this aspect of social life seems to be dying out while we ignore each other in person while preferring the prophylactic communication of texting and tweeting.

Without giving away the plot, suffice it to say that the support system these very real and three-dimensional characters share sustains them through all the rites of passage in life, both celebratory and tragic.  The dialogue is fast paced and punctuated with witty lines, one of the best being: “I am not crazy, I have just been in a bad mood for forty years.”  The audience was kept laughing along the way, and expressed their appreciation to this opening night performance with a standing ovation.

The cast of six women was uniformly strong, credible, and on cue with each other; all of the all-female cast are theater and/or film veterans: Carla Crawford (Truvy), Susan Smythe (AnnelleDupuy Desoto), Brenda Parker (Clairee Belcher), Alana D. Sharp (M’LynnEatenton), Kelsey Yudice (Shelby), Patricia Spencer Smith (Ouiser Boudreaux).  

Especially comic in her timing and delivery was Brenda Parker.  When asked about the meaning of the play for herself personally, she told Local Kicks that “I am a Christian and read in Scripture that iron sharpens iron.  So we have these delicate but strong women, steel magnolias, who strengthen and support each other.  They help each other grow.”

Theatre goer Hilary Adams from Alexandria said, “For me it’s very personal because I am also diabetic, like the lead character of Shelby.  The mother fights so hard for her.  The support system they have is something that is hard to find.  A very sweet emotional snapshot…the women are very real.”

Steel Magnolias was written by Robert Harling, produced by Brook Angel and Jay A. Cohen, and directed by Sharon Veselic.  It runs until October 1.  Purchase tickets online at  The Little Theatre is on Wolfe and South St. Asaph Streets in Old Town, Alexandria.

Carla Crawford (Truvy Jones)

Brenda Parker (Clairee) and Carla Crawford (Truvy)

Brenda Parker (Clairee), Kelsey Yudice (Shelby), Patricia Spencer Smith (Ouiser), Susan Smythe (Annelle), Carla Crawford (Truvy)

Susan Smythe (Annelle), Carla Crawford (Truvy)

Alana D. Sharp (Mary Lynn) and Carla Crawford (Truvy)

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