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Entertaining “Steel Magnolias” at Village Players Toledo (Review) March 5, 2016

Posted by ronannarbor in Community Theater, Theatre.
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Robert Harling’s “Steel Magnolias” is a perennial in the theater circuit, and the production now on exhibit at The Village Players Theatre in Toledo is entertaining and solid. It features good performances by 5 of its leading ladies, and a master-class in acting by the sixth.

The audience laughed (and later cried) its way through the beauty-shop antics of Deb Shaffer’s shop owner (Truvy) with newcomer Jordan Killam (Annelie). Young Bride Marissa Rex makes her appearance on cue (Shelby), as does her mother Lydia Shafer (M’Lynn). Arriving later in the proceedings Carol Ann Erford plays the unctuous neighbor (Ouiser).

But from the moment Barbara Barkan steps on stage in the role of Clairee, the world is a better place. She gives a master-class in acting: from barking out the funniest lines of the evening, to her spot-on reactions while watching from the distance, never out of the action. Young actors would be well-advised to watch her throughout the evening if you aspire to future acting greatness.

The direction by Larry Farley is uneven and a bit too stagnant for my taste. The set work is excellent, as is the lighting (although the spotlight effect for M’Lynn’s big monologue probably doesn’t need to be there). Costume design is lovely throughout, with the exception of one or two pieces.

One of the actresses struggled with a few of her lines on opening night, although it was nimbly covered by her fellow actors on stage. And there is one awkward scene change in the first act where the director in me just wanted to scream out “Cut! Stage Manager put the damn tree on stage and decorate it all later!”

Special kudos to Kevin Charles Hair Artistry, who not only partly sponsored the show, but who designed the delicious hairstyles, provided furniture and props for the hair salon set, and even provided the raffle presents for the production!

You will have a very entertaining time at this “Steel Magnolias”, as did I and the audience around me last night.

Steel Magnolias continues at The Village Players Theatre, 2740 Upton Ave in Toledo, OH through March 19, 2016. Tickets online at TheVillagePlaers.org or by calling (419) 472-6817



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