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BWW Review: STEEL MAGNOLIAS at The Belmont Theatre

The production runs through May 1st.

BWW Review: STEEL MAGNOLIAS at The Belmont Theatre

Attempting to produce a show adapted into an award-winning film is challenging. With audience members continually comparing the performance to highly acclaimed actors, it takes a brave director and a confident cast to pull off Steel Magnolias. Jack Hartmann (director) should be applauded for rising to the challenge and creating a wonderful night at The Belmont Theatre's interactive black box environment.

A small venue brings the audience intimately aware of everything happening on stage. For a show to be successful, it must be cast with strong actors who not only play their parts well, but have chemistry with each other. Whether through luck or fantastic casting, Hartman's cast of six powerful female actors made the night a huge success.

The plot begins with a job interview of sorts. New in town, Annelle (Allison Rambler in) is looking for work at Truvy's hair salon in Chinquapin, Louisiana. Impressed by her work, and eager for additional help, Truvy hires Annelle and quickly puts her to work. Audience members soon learn that it is a wedding that has created the urgency at the salon. Shelby ( Eva Heler) and her mother, M'Lynn (Stephanie Trdenic) take center attention as Clairee (Joan Crooks), another patron, is asked to wait. Told from the vantage point of the neighborhood salon, this story follows Shelby through her many joys and sorrows of life. A hilarious, sarcastic, and emotional ride leaves audience members unsure whether to laugh or cry. Either way, this story touches people.

The show was fortunate to find six actors with expressive body language and fantastic chemistry. So much so, It is hard to identify any standouts. While I found Heler's portrayal of Shelby to be a bit flat at times, my collaborator argued she was one of the best of the night. There is certainly no denying that Heler's chemistry with Trdenic (playing her mother) was spot on and exemplified the mother daughter drama surrounding a wedding. For me, it was Dalton's Truvy that carried the night and kept the show moving. Her expressive mannerisms and comedic timing was matched only by veteran actor Martha Traverse's portrayal of the grumpy neighbor, Ouiser. Some of the funniest moments (and there were many) included Crooks (Clairee) and Traverse (Ouiser) pushing each other around, when they weren't pushing each other's buttons.

The friendly staff, great facility, and fantastic show made for a wonderful night out. For more information about this and other shows at The Belmont Theatre, visit: www.

Review by Jason Davis in collaboration with Julia Davis

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