‘Steel Magnolias’ bleeds Southern charm

‘Steel Magnolias’ bleeds Southern charm
From left to right, Cathy Hansel-Edgerton, Kelly Wynn Woodland, Sue Belvo, Tahlia Chinault, Jennifer Kwiatkowski and Corrine Woodland. - Tom Vaught | Sun

ANNA MARIA – After a champagne party to celebrate the start of the Island Players’ 71st season, the show began for “Steel Magnolias,” a play written by Robert Harling in memory of his sister, who died at an early age.

Anybody who has seen the star-studded 1986 movie might get confused because the opening of the movie had Tom Skerritt using a shotgun to scare away birds in a huge magnolia tree.

That scene was not in the play, but it wasn’t missed. In fact, there were no male roles in the play, but they were not missed either.

The cast was up to the opening performance with great timing on the line delivery, especially the jokes. The Southern accents were believable and Director Mike Lusk did a great job.

The setting is a beauty salon in Chinquapin, Lousiana. Jennifer Kwiatkowski was brilliant as Truvy, the salon’s owner. She “chewed the scenery” when it came to dialogue with punch lines.

Tahlia Chinault, a newcomer to the Island Players, has performed on stages along the Sun Coast. She played the new girl in town, Annell, quite well and was spot-on in playing off the other actors’ lines. She will be replaced by Caitlin Ellis for the second week, but we would love to see her in future plays.

Cathy Hansel-Edgerton played Clairee, a regular customer at the beauty salon, who, as she says in the play is “richer than God,” and she buys the local radio station to give her something to do.

Sometimes actors get roles they can have fun with. That was the case with Sue Belvo, who played Ouiser (pronounced “Wheezer”). She’s mean and offends many of the townsfolk. Belvo got laughs as she delivered her lines.

Then we have a mother-daughter team played by mother Kelly Wynn Woodland and her daughter, Corinne Woodland. Kelly Wynn Woodland is known for her directing, but she occasionally takes to the stage, while Corinne has performed with her mother in other productions. It is remarkable how much they resemble each other and hard to tell the mother from the daughter when they’re on stage.

As Shelby, Corinne is determined to have a baby, even though she is diabetic and her doctor recommends against it. As M’Lynn, Kelly Wynn Woodland has to deal with the loss of her daughter when the inevitable occurs.

“Steel Magnolias” is a great play if you like to laugh and then wipe back a few tears at the end.

Acqua Aveda Salon and Spa is the play’s co-producer.

For ticket information, call the box office at 941-778-5755.

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