by Robert Harling
The success of Shirley Valentine caught the imagination of a number of local actresses who relished the idea of touring a play with an all female cast, so it was no problem at all to take to the road with a very experienced and accomplished cast in "Steel Magnolias" by Robert Harling.
The play is a remarkable piece in that the two central characters, M'Lynne and Shelby, are in fact portraits of Harling's Mother and sister, and the central event of the play, Shelby's death, is a factual account of the tragedy that befell his family. Harling, who was a young Louisiana lawyer, recorded the events initially without thoughts of publication but friends said that it would make a play. Those friends were right; Steel Magnolias triumphed on Broadway and ran for more than a thousand performances before being made into a successful film.
Cast and Crew
Director: Dave Baldwin
|Stage Manager||Ian Pauley|
|Sound & Lighting||Philip Preston|
|Assistant Stage Managers||
|Voice Coach||Annette O'Hara|
|Front of House||
Our thanks to Perfect Measure, Peter Charles, Suzannes and Red's Hair of Ross-on-Wye and Utopia of Coleford for the loan of salon equipment.
Dates and Venues
|14th - 15th January 2005||The Powell Theatre, Hereford|
|28th - 29th January 2005||Bishops Frome Village Centre|
|4th - 5th February 2005||Fownhope New Memorial Hall|
|25th - 26th February 2005||Forest Theatre, Coleford|
|4th - 5th March 2005||Weobley Village Hall|
|11th - 12th March 2005||The Savoy Theatre, Monmouth|
AMBITION PAYS OFF FOR COMPANY
"Steel Magnolias, the latest touring production from BareBones Theatre Company, is delivered in a very professional manner. Written by Robert Harlin, the play is set in a fictional Louisiana town, where we follow the lives of six women who frequent a small-town beauty parlour. Anyone familiar with the 1987 film version with Julia Roberts will know it is advisable to bring along a large box of tissues, because both the storyline and the performances will draw tears from even the most cynical eyes. BareBones has stayed true to the ambitious production values that made its last show so impressive. In Shirley Valentine, chips appeared to be fried on stage. That has been topped in Steel Magnolias with a fully functioning hair salon with hot running water. Overall, the cast give powerful performances. Anna Whitney as Shelby, Sally Lomax as her mother M'Lynne, and Loraine Worrall as Truvy stood out within a very strong cast."
Colin Fairbrother, Feb 2005, Fownhope Village magazine - The Flag
STEEL MAGNOLIAS PERFORMED BY THE BAREBONES THEATRE COMPANY
"Regular readers of the Flag may well recall that in October last year the village's Theatre Critic, Michael Best, reviewed the BareBones production of Shirley Valentine. Whilst praising the performances, he bemoaned the fact that audiences on both evenings were disappointingly low. In deed, so low was the attendance that the company had to consider whether they could justify mounting further productions at Fownhope! Fortunately they were swayed by the excellent facilities offered by the Memorial Hall aad the decision was made to include Fownhope in the tour dates for their second production 'Steel Magnolias' performed on Friday and Saturday 4th & 5th February. Their faith was justified and this year the residents of Fownhope deserved hearty congratulations for turning up in numbers to the extent that BareBones were able to display virtual 'House Full' notices for both evenings.
As their name suggests, the company does not attempt to present grand sets but for this production, set in a small American town ladies hairdressing salon, the audience quickly felt the authentic atmosphere created by Dave Baldwin, Philip Preston and Richard Worrall. Indeed, so realistic was the setting that in Scene 1, probably since the famous Mary Martin nightly 'washed that man right out of her hair' in the London production of South Pacific, the Fownhope audience were treated to the sight of one of the cast actually having her hair washed on stage - a rare sight indeed. Out of a cast of six ladies it would be invidious to select individuals because this was essentially a great team effort. That said, it would be wrong not to comment on individual performances. Tbe play was given a strong start by Truvy, (Lorraine Worral), the salon owner. She maintained the strength of her performance throughout and was the foundation stone upon which the edifice was erected. Counter balancing the imposing figure of Truvy was her new assistant Annelle, (Beverley Meek), who displayed an impressive range of acting by transforming herself from a meek, uncertain girl into an ardent and persuasive 'born again Christian'. The two 'grand dames' of the town were Clairee, (Jeanette Bennnett), and Ouiser, (Margaret Baldwin). They started quietly as was their role but as the play developed they both gained in strength and their contribution became very real. Their ability to deliver a cryptic comment without the bitterness of animosity was most effective, particularly when harnessed with their ability to deliver a 'cutting edge' brand of humour. The young bride of the play Shelby, (Anna Whitney), also displayed a wide acting range by convincingly showing the audience her ability to portray a fairly vacuous bride to be, turning into a mature and responsible wife and mother over the course of the period of the play.
Perhaps the plaudits for Saturday evening's performance should go to Sally Lomax who played M'Lynne, Shelby's mother. Nothing in the early part of the play suggested the strength of her acting ability. Her piece de resistance at the climax of the play illustrated her talent in bold relief, which allowed her to explore raw human emotions to the extent that one detected real tears emerging from the eyes of the remainder of the cast (and I suspect from more than one in the audience). Bravo BareBones, we look forward to your next production at Fownhope."