Having recently been introduced to members of Baton Rouge’s Red Hat Society, I… can’t remember who imitates who… but Life and Art are definitely happening in Wolf Pack Theatre Company’s Steel Magnolias. Set in 1980’s Chinquapin Parish, Robert Harling’s play revolves around a year in the life of six women in a gathering place where they can let their hair down.
Director Bill Leary did a marvelous job assembling a cast that is phenomenally strong across the board. Jenny Madorsky (as the vivacious and lively Shelby) epitomizes the title as strong yet sweet. Vanessa Berben (as the young, naïve Annelle) is as dynamically changing as her character. Lorraine Bouchard (as the cantankerous and crotchety Ouiser) is right cranky. Allison Turkel (as the matronly M’Lynn) and Katy Chmura (as the kindly and sassy Clairee) share a roller coaster of a scene. And Elizabeth A. Weiss (as the fashion-forward, down-home southern hospitality queen Truvy) well keeps everyone and everything tied together as the host. At all times you very much get the sense that these are old friends who care deeply for each other.
Being allowed a permanent set, Leary uses it to its full extent as a cheerful and practically functional beauty salon. As a final touch up, there is a selfie booth should you also need to glamour. Dannielle Beitzell’s costumes fondly bring you through the seasons of the ‘80s with a lot of pink.
Arrive early and you also get dinner. “Wolf Pack Catering” exists because they had to put something in the program, so this is your only chance to enjoy them. The corn bread and jalapeno butter is extra creamy. The jambalaya is good but inoffensive to Northern tastes (ask for hot sauce). Alas, they couldn’t get a fryer for green tomatoes. But that’s another story.
If you want to laugh, cry, and feel, Steel Magnolias has it all. They also have dinner in case you want to eat.
Running Time: 2 hours and 30 minutes with one intermission
Steel Magnolias plays through July 22, 2018 with Wolf Pack Theatre Company in the downstairs social hall of The First Baptist Church of Hyattsville— 5701 42nd Avenue in Hyattsville, MD. Tickets can be purchased at the door or in advance online.