reviewed by Ken Klingenmeier

Mud Creek Players opens its new season with a sold out performance of Robert Harling’s endearing play – Steel Magnolias. This tale of the bond between six Louisiana women had its start as an off-Broadway production in 1987 and did not make its Broadway theatre debut until 2005 – 16 years after the 1989 film version.

MCP’s production is well wrought, directed by Kelly Keller, with assistance by Ann Ellerbrook. These two, working together with a fine collection of local actresses, have attended to the script’s comic/drama aspects – balancing the many, very funny lines with the sorrowful notes therein.

Steel Magnolias has an ensemble type group of characters. The cast creates some very Southern ladies to populate the play – accents, style of movement, sense of culture are all in place. Having lived in the south for some time myself, I see no lapses from the real thing in these portrayals.

from left: Jennifer Kaufmann (Truvy), Erin Keller (Annelle) and Susan Hill (Clairee)

The roster of players includes Jennifer J. Kaufmann, flamboyant as romantic beauty shop owner, Truvy; Erin Keller, who progresses nicely from youthfully unsure to righteously religious as Annelle; Susan Hill, delivering some of the show’s funniest lines as the facetious Clairee; Savannah Scarborough, hitting the mark as the sympathetic Shelby; Barb Percy Weaver, strong yet emotional as Shelby’s mother, M’Lynn; and Linnea Leatherman, tough and fully present as Ouiser. The group works well together throughout, moving the story along nicely through its peaks and valleys, showing the love (and reliance) this cadre of women have for each other.

from left: Savannah Scarborough (Shelby), Barb Percy Weaver (M’Lynn) and Linnea Leatherman (Ouiser)

Noteworthy as well is the work by set designer/builder Mike Mellot and costume provider, Judy McGroarty. Both provided finishing touches that made a difference in the presentation.

Bottomline: All in all, this is a lovely production of one of my favorite plays. The full-house audience enjoyed the show immensely and MCP can always be counted on to put together solid and worthwhile productions.

Steel Magnolias continues at Mud Creek Players with Friday and Saturday performances at 8 pm through Sept 28, and a single Sunday matinee at 2:30 pm on Sept 22. You can find more info about reservations, the theatre’s location and the company’s upcoming schedule by going to http://www.mudcreekplayers.org .

  • photos provided by Mud Creek Players, Colman Love -photographer