Live theater has happily returned to one of the performing arts gems of Baltimore (and the entire DMV area). After being closed for almost a year and a half due to the pandemic, Everyman Theater opened its 31st season with a beautifully performed, funny and poignant production of “Steel Magnolias”. (Which will hopefully and probably be the norm for most theaters at the moment, audiences are required to show proof of vaccination and wear masks.)
Everyman’s production of “Steel Magnolias” is the perfect reintroduction to live theater – full of joy, laughter and tears …
Everyman’s team has not been idle and has adapted skillfully while keeping all its staff. Among other things, the theater has provided wonderful offerings such as the continuous production of “An Almost Holy Picture,” the recent tour de force of resident company Bruce Randolph Nelson. (Read the review here).
The triumphant return was ushered in by remarks from Executive Director Marissa LaRose and Artistic Director Vincent M. Lancisi. The audience also included enthusiastic staff and members of the Residence Society to support the casting and creation of this wonderful show about the strength and resilience of six diverse women – proof that friendship and a good sense of humor are the keys to enduring whatever life throws at you. yours.
Unlike the Oscar-nominated and Golden Globe-nominated film of the same name of 1989 packed with famous movie stars (both male and female), the Drama Desk Award nominee focuses solely on the six women and their evolution over a few short years. Although their lives are interconnected in many ways, the beauty salon is their social refuge where they can experience it all. The men are off stage and, in one case, overheard. (The father of the bride uses a gun to shoot the birds in a magnolia tree so they don’t poop at the celebration.) Director Casey Stangl has a stellar cast and uses their great talents to the max.
We are in the 1980s in a small town in northwest Louisiana. It’s the morning of Shelby’s (Katie Kleiger) wedding. The exuberant, warm and wise Truvy (Megan Anderson), just hired a new arrival in town, Annelle (Heather A. Gibson), to help her in her beauty salon when the ladies arrive. Annelle, a calm and shy girl, escaping a deadbeat husband. We see her rebuilding her life, finding religion as an enthusiastic born-again Christian, sometimes humorously annoying to the rest of the ladies. Clairee (Nancy Robinette) is the widow of the former mayor who thrives after buying local radio and traveling the world. She always crosses swords with the wonderfully cranky and hilarious, Ouiser (Helen Hedman). The two play out brilliantly and often steal the show.
While everything in her life must be pink in color, Shelby de Kleiger exudes a complex balance of hope, strength, and determination in having a child and avoids her character’s pitfalls of getting too saccharine. As Shelby’s mother, M’Lynn, Beth Hylton is a powerful force – a mother bear who will do anything for her daughter even if she doesn’t agree with her life-changing choices as a diabetic.
The creative team is also in top form. The Milagros Ponce De Leon ensemble is spectacular in its detail, complemented by the lighting design by Harold F. Burgess II and the sound design by Twi McCallum. Costume designer David Burdick does a brilliant job of capturing ’80s sensibility, including Truvy’s loud and colorful jump suits. Kudos to wig designer Denise O’Brien for allowing the cast to play lightly by hand while styling.
Everyman’s production of “Steel Magnolias” is the perfect reintroduction to live theater – full of joy, laughter and tears – and a healing balm in these trying times.
Duration: About two hours and 30 minutes, with an intermission of 15.
Notice: Shots outside the scene.
Steel Magnolias takes place in person until September 5, 2021 at the Everyman Theater, 315 West Fayette Street, Baltimore, MD 21201. It can also be shown online from August 27 through September 19, 2021. Tickets can be purchased online or online. calling the Box Bureau at 410-752-2208.