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Steel Magnolias

Picture cursory of Mark Sepple & Queen's Theatre
Picture cursory of Mark Sepple & Queen’s Theatre

Yesterday was the press release night for the new production at the Queens Theatre in Hornchurch.

Ben and Annette were fortunate to be able to see the show.  Tickets are available by calling the theatre direct.

This is what Ben thought:
A great cast bring to Queen’s Theatre Robert Harling’s 80’s Louisiana set story, of six women who come together every Saturday in the towns beauty centre. Sharing gossip, recipes and drama, all whist getting their latest hair do in order.
The whole cast is excellent making good use of the only one set piece that’s needed for the story, the beauty salon itself. The cast perform the snappy lines with great timing, and to mention in particular Tina Gray as Clairee is hilarious with her straight talking quips, and Claire Storey plays M’Lynn with a nice range of emotional depth, well judged. So a very good cast that play out the source material very well.
Your never to far from another good quip or joke with this one, but it complements the drama of theimage story’s theme, instead of lessening it.
People take different things back from a production. Sometimes a certain scene leaves the most impression, or a character, or a piece of dialogue. With this production of Steel Magnolias the central themes of the greatness of true friendship, tolerating each others differences as part of their closeness, and as women being ‘ as fragile as magnolias yet tough as steel’ comes through very well-along with its main tag of sharing laughter through tears.
That is my favorite thing about Steel Magnolias. I’ve always been a big fan of laughter through tears, it seems like a powerful thing to me. To be able to use humor in those emotional moments, not in a disrespectful way but a touching one. And it sums up what this production does very well, with its strong drama led by heartache and then followed by laughs. What I took back then from Steel Magnolias, is a line from Truvy “Laughter through tears is my favorite emotion”. I couldn’t agree more.

Here’s what Annette thought:

Little women with big hearts. Steel Magnolia is refreshing and touching.  One minute they had you in stiches then the next close to tears.

The Louisiana ladies found common ground in the salon.  A place to vent, laugh or even have a new hair style.  This production with just 6 actresses delivered an outstanding adaption of the film.  The accents were spot on and scripts faultless.  Touched by how the messages of strength and friendship were delivered by just a handful of cast, completely immersed in the characters the conviction became them. The one liners were defining and comical.

Sadly the original story was based on a true story.  This adaption felt the passion of how a newly wed feels about having a baby, despite the fact with diabetes it was  dangerous journey. It’s the 1980’s and treatment was not quite as advanced.  As with any mother knowing those risks and being helpless to the fact that your daughter is going to do it anyway.  Claire Storey was the mother in question. She was brilliant.  All of this was made possible by Sarah Mahony who played the role as Truvy, salon manager.  It was her they all came to see and share the gossip and hairdo’s came second in priorities of the little hair salon of Louisiana.  Friendship was everything and nothing would change.  I’m convinced of that.  The ladies worked together like rum and coke and a few cubes of ice.

As the story develops you can sense a sadness in the air but the suspense kept you guessing.  I had not seen the film, so the ending was important to me and not what I expected.  Gemma Salter, Shelby in the production.  She was highly motivated and determined and I think woman everywhere would feel her need and be able to connect with her character, and the womanly desires felt, all thanks to her execution within the production.

Full credit to the whole team, the set was appropriate to the story, accents and costumes consistent all the way through.  Directed by a Queens Theatre regular Liz Marsh, with her woman’s touch this was always going to be full of spirit and a true gem!