July 7, 2022

Art & Lifestyle:

‘Steel Magnolias’ Blossoms

Art at the Bottom Icon
Art at the Bottom logoPosted by Viki Volk

You’ll laugh. Once or twice until you cry, which isn’t the only reason to stick a hankie in your pocket for the out-of-the-park home-run the Newtowne Players’ hit with “Steel Magnolias,” playing through Oct. 7 at Three Notch Theatre in downtown Lexington Park, Maryland.

This is the best of community theater. The cast and crew are both experienced and happen to be your neighbors. You might go to some of their same hairdressers. Not barbers, though. Although added into the popular movie, Robert Harling did not include men in his play. Six women complete the cast for the single-set, two act play contained inside a two-seat beauty parlor. Hair It Is Salon and Spa gets a pre-show shout-out for providing the training that assured the wash and sets that take place as casually as stage business are accurate. And probably also so M’Lynn’s ‘do isn’t ruined for the second act.

Director Kerry Robinson praises the original for¬† “fewer distraction to the core story,” which, by the end of the day, is about the strength of deep and abiding friendship.

The pared production of six-women moving in and out of a single set keeps the comedy fast-paced without losing the story line or the impact of the final scene. And though men never appear on stage, they aren’t stripped from the punchlines, which flew fast, sometimes even too fast, but never fell flat.

From the first full wash and set to the final outrageously timed, nearly slapstick punchline, the ensemble tucks the audience snugly into the parlor and carries them every step of the way. The women move together  across the set as smoothly as an expanse of silk. It would be impossible to leave with feeling its touch.

Kudos to Southern Maryland stage veteran, Stacy Reynolds Oosterink playing Truvy, the hairdresser who carries the vehicle that propels the storyline of Shelby, played by Rebecca Raymond. Ms. Raymond transitions convincingly in three scenes and with young, smirking humor from daughter to new bride to new mother.

With the aid of Annelle, played by Emily Funderburk, hair styles and whole lives change for the women who come to Turvy’s. As an ensemble and individually, the women bring comedic aplomb to the stage and rarely let the tension falter. Ms. Funderburk at times additionally, simultaneously, performing an on-stage wash and set.

Robin Finnacom as Quiser gives a knock-out performance with flashes of physical comedy that could make Lucille Ball proud. Linda Lagle as the acerbic Clairee is a standout in every scene, ultimately  pulling off the successful upstaging of a tragic finale.

Dawn Weber played M’Lynn, arguable the most complicated emotional role of the play and upon whom rests the final believability of these women. Ms. Weber verily pirouettes through the difficult denouement, catching you unawares. Catching you.

Again, this is community theater at its very best. Catch it. Newtowne Players‘ “Steel Magnolias” at Three Notch Theatre through Oct. 7.

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