The Bergen County Players are currently putting on “Steel Magnolias”. It is the story about Annelle,(Elisabeth Erdmann), Truvy Jones,(Janica Carpenter), Clairee ),Shelby, (Chloe Nevill) M’Lynn ,(Carol Fisher) and Ouiser, (Cheryl Woertz). With the exception of Shelby, the daughter of M’Lynn, the other five women are great friends in a very gossipy way, yet a very loving unconditional way.
The entire play is in Truvy’s beauty parlor, set in Chinquapin Louisiana set in the 1980’s . This play is very well directed Ellyn Essig as it is very well staged by Michael Smith. Small, but very efficient, Essig moves the characters around during the two and a half hours so it never slows down. What is even more noticeable is the brilliant lighting by Gerard Bourcier. Bourcier color choices at different parts of the play really brings the mood, either upbeat or down beat through the plays peaks and valley’s. All three make the play a success.”Steel Magnolias” is not an easy play to do, I have seen this play twice over the years and it must be done just right to be a success, as it can lose it’s audience.
We are brought through the play as Annelle begins work at the salon, her first day. We later learn that her marriage was horrible from the beginning, how she later in the play meets a new boyfriend, and is beginning to fall in love and becomes extremely religious.
We meet Shelby on her wedding day, about to marry Jackson, we become aware of her diabetes and how she cannot have children as it would affect her health. It is apparent that she wants kids of her own and that she loves children. We see the sacrifice she makes to have a child and how alone she is raising her child because Jackson is never home.
The play has great humor to it, the first act provides fewer laughs then the second act. The comedic timing is brilliant at times, especially from Clairee and Ouiser. “Steel” takes us on a roller coaster of laughs, sadness and the everyday lives of these six women. We are invited into there lives through a hair salon and the writer lets us see how they cope with each other through three and a half years of there lives. Writer Robert Harling gives us laughter and tears throughout the two hours and forty minutes. He gives us a taste of the Southern way of life, it’s traditions and culture. All six actors pull off a sensational Southern accent throughout the play. We find that losing Shelby was losing someone we knew and are sorry to see her go. We also feel sorry for her mother who watched her breath her first breath and saw her very last, what she was willing to do to save her life.
“Steel Magnolias” runs through March 10th at the Bergen County Players, Oradell, N.J.