‘Steel Magnolias’ Dazzles With Authenticity (Shortened Review)


Shauntelle Thompson

Amelya Bostic (left) as Shelby and Eliza Aulick (right) as Annelle

Rafael Alfonso, Content Editor

“I know these women.”

As I sat there in the Francis Booth Experimental Theatre and as I left it, those four words kept repeating in my head.  

“I know these women.” 

I know each of them as if they weren’t fictional characters that only lived for those two short hours onstage. I know their actresses as if each of them had personally whispered in my ear during intermission all of their most intimate secrets. When the play ended, I had the chance to speak to the actresses after the show, and I had to hold myself back from bear hugging them and talking to them as if they were all my childhood best friends.

Eliza Aulick (who plays Annelle) and Kendra Williams (who plays Truvy) also work well together to highlight one of the other major feats of the show: the hair work. Both style the hair of the other actresses live on stage while in character in every sense of the word. Aulick, as the new girl, looks like her life depends on the work she does half the time; meanwhile, Williams, playing the owner of the salon itself, does the work with a practiced yet casual kind of focus. 

At no point does the hair styling distract the audience or the actresses, but instead it becomes a normal part of the experience as if everyone really was just spending a day in the salon. 

Each of the actresses on their own, though, bring their respective character to life in stunning three-dimensionality. They all make excellent use of the set, props and costumes, and they create an atmosphere where I often couldn’t tell who was going to speak next or when a sound cue was going to play. 

That is not an easy effect to achieve. I’ve done my time onstage and seen/written my share of shows, so I know this in my bones: director Leah Turley and her cast and crew have achieved a kind of magic on that stage that’s all at once hilarious, heart wrenching and definitely worth seeing.

Another round of performances will take place Feb. 22-25 at the Francis Booth Experimental Theatre in the Joan C. Edwards Performing Arts Center. Tickets are free for students with a valid MU ID, $20 for general admission and $15 for seniors age 60 and older and for Marshall employees.


For the full version and an extra photo, click here: https://marshallparthenon.com/31212/opinion/steel-magnolias-dazzles-with-authenticity-extended-version/