REVIEW: Steel Magnolias

Wednesday may have been freezing but I was left warmed to the core after watching Detour Theatre’s latest production of Steel Magnolias.

I confess: I didn’t think I was part of the target audience ahead of this show, but when the tears welled up in my eyes by what I had witnessed on stage I’m more than happy to eat my own words.

The cast of Steel Magnolias’ from left: Maggie Kelly, Geraldine Broderick, Susi Jansen, Mikayla Morgan, Sarah Oemcke and Mikayla Williamson. Photo: Detour Theatre

Opening to a good audience on Wednesday night, Steel Magnolias is on-stage at Detour Theatre in the Historic Village until July 4.

Directed by Kim Williamson it stars local actors Susi Jansen, Mikayla Morgan, Sarah Oemcke, Geraldine Broderick, Maggie Kelly and Mikayla Williamson.

Written by American playwright Robert Harling, the story takes place in a Louisiana beauty parlour and features an eccentric group of women who gossip, giggle and share the joys and lows of life.

Kim and the cast’s treatment of Steel Magnolias was beautifully done and truly lived up to the show’s billing of being ‘alternately hilarious and touching’. It’s one of those rewarding shows where the payoff at the end is definitely worth it.

While I’m not of the female persuasion, nor do I have a full head of hair, the emotional qualities of the characters which were portrayed effectively by the actors gave me something to identify with - everyone at some stage in their life has laughed, cried pondered and found solidarity in friendship.

During the first three quarters of the show, if you didn’t manage a laugh you may be suffering from rigor mortis, because there are some real humdinger lines peppered throughout.

When it comes to the comedic aspect of this show, all the cast do very well with their deliveries and often hit the nail of the head.

This was truly the case for Geraldine Broderick (Clairee) and Maggie Kelly (Ouiser) who were golden in their performances – some of the biggest laughs were reserved for these sassy two and it was truly a struggle not to fall in love with each of their characters.

There were some really wonderful moments featuring Sarah Oemcke (Truvy) and Mikayla Williamson (Annelle) who gave very good performances. I think as the season continues they’ll also flesh out their surrogate mother-daughter relationship a bit more which will add another dimension.

I also enjoyed the interaction between Susi Jansen (M’Lynn) and Mikayla Morgan (Shelby) who played mother and daughter respectively and gave solid performances. I had to stifle a laugh in places because they triggered memories of watching my mother and sisters deal with each other.

The standout for me definitely had to be the last act. Susi should take a bow because her performance really smashed the ball out of the park. I wanted to start blubbering and thankfully I was not the only one as there were members of the audience who beat me to the punch.

No matter who you are I highly recommend you check out Steel Magnolias. The warmth displayed by all of the actors during their performances would melt even the coldest of hearts.

Steel Magnolias runs from June 17 to July 4. Bookings are available at Baycourt and online at www.ticketdirect.co.nz or visit www.detour.co.nz for more information.


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