Laughter and tears at AACC theater 'Magnolias': Pasadena Theatre Company presents an enjoyable version of the play about a group of women sharing their lives at the beauty parlor.

July 23, 1998|By Phil Greenfield | Phil Greenfield,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

"Steel Magnolias" is a warm, funny and sad play about a beauty parlor relationship shared by six loyal, resilient Louisiana women who collectively feed a reservoir of love and understanding that nurtures them all when life's harsher moments come a-callin'.

Through widowhood, marital stress, family conflict, illness and death, Truvy the beautician and her companions remain steadfast and true to themselves, their families and each other.

You can share their laughter and tears for the next couple of weekends at the Humanities Recital Hall at Anne Arundel Community College, where the Pasadena Theatre Company is presenting a very enjoyable version of Robert Harling's play through Aug. 2.

Pasadena's "magnolias," directed by Charlie Maloney, are energetic, likable and fun. Laureen Benson-Hall is ingratiating as the affable Truvy, while Christine Reshetiloff is funny and touching as Annelle, the new beautician whose off-center dizziness winds up sounding like heightened spiritual awareness on more than one occasion.

It took a few pages of dialogue to get Joan Ashwell's Clairee and Deborah Pferdeort's M'Lynn off and rolling, but they wound up stealing the second act. Clairee may be a respectable Southern widow, but it's her irreverence in the face of tragedy that makes the finale fly, and Ashwell was right there with her.

Pferdeort's handling of M'Lynn's anguished outburst had eyes all over the house in serious need of dabbing.

Chris Wells got so many laughs as Ouiser Boudreaux that one stopped caring that she was probably too young, too pretty and too nice to capture the essence of a prickly old eccentric who has been driving her friends crazy on a daily basis through a 40-year pout.

Marisa Sanders sparkles as M'Lynn's daughter, Shelby, though I wanted more of a contrast between the headstrong bride-to-be who opens the play and the courageous wife and mother fighting for her life 1 1/2 years later. But Sanders is bright, open and easy to love when it counts, and you'll have no problem empathizing with her mother when tragedy strikes.

AACC's Humanities Recital Hall is an intimate place to set a spell and eavesdrop on these remarkable women as they repeatedly disprove Truvy's adorably self-serving assertion that "there's no such thing as natural beauty."

In truth, there is. And each one of these characters has it.

Reservations: 410-969-1801.

Pub Date: 7/23/98

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