‘Steel Magnolias’ populated with delightful characters

By Meredith Pechta | Feb 27, 2014

The Driftwood Players are back with a ladies choice.  It’s a funny, delightful play filled with southern comfort.  It’s called “Steel Magnolias.”

All of the play takes place at a beauty salon in the South.  In four extended scenes, each taking place months after the previous one, the audience gets to know the memorable characters.

Truvy, the owner of the salon, is a mother hen, looking after the poor unfortunates who come her way.

Annelle, her newest employee and project, has a husband on the run from the law.  Technically she might not be married, because he already was.

Shelby is the free spirit of the group.  At the beginning of the story, she’s about to get married.  And as the audience discovers, she’s in bad physical shape due to an ongoing battle with diabetes.

Her mother, M’Lynn, is a well meaning control freak who wants more than anything to keep her daughter alive, sometimes at the expense of living.

Clairee, the former mayor’s wife, is trying to find other things to do with her free time.  She, like her friends, is suffering from “empty nest syndrome.”

And last, but far from least, is Mrs. Ouiser.  She’s the most feisty and eccentric of the group, with a hairless dog and a feud with M’Lynn’s husband.

A play like this is all about casting, and the Driftwood Players have put together a fine ensemble.  Laura Crouch leads the group as Truvy.  Most of her theater experience is from Seattle. Here, she lends her considerable expertise to help create an original.

The flighty Annelle is delightfully played by Anne Arnhold.  You may recognize her as Sister Leo in Driftwood’s production of “Nunsense.”  Here she goes from lost soul to caretaker of many.

Sarah Karnes plays the fragile Shelby, who everybody dotes on.  This is her second appearance following Driftwood’s production of “The Importance of Being Ernest.”  Here she plays a woman of strength as well vulnerability, much like the title.

The role of the brave and resourceful M’Lynn goes to Molly Hall.  Believe it or not, she played Shelby years ago in a previous production of “Steel Magnolias.”  Now it’s her turn to play the matron.

Cindy Giese French plays Clairee.  She gets some of the best lines and moments in the show.  You may remember seeing her at the Seattle Fringe Festival.

Ouiser is played by Rebecca O’Neil.  Hers is a true transformation.  If you didn’t see her picture in the program and her performance as an aged woman, you ’d never know it was her.  She was excellent is “Noises Off,” and is again as this temperamental Southern belle.

(Apologies to the Driftwood Players for the lateness of this review.  Due to a car accident, I was unable to attend an earlier performance.)

Please enjoy this show for the time it has left.  Also, watch for the Driftwood Players’ upcoming production “Greater Tuna,” which will be March 13-16, 2014.

“Steel Magnolias” is playing Through March 2 at the Wade James Theater, 950 Main Street, Edmonds.

For ticket information call: (425) 774-9600.

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