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Steel-Magnolia ‘A woman who possesses the strength of steel, yet the gentleness of a magnolia.’

Local thespian Brenda Hutchings appeared in last months production of Steel Magnolias at the Little Theatre and, here, brings us her take on how it all went.


The play is set in Truvy’s (Brenda Hutchings) Salon in Chinquapin, Louisiana, where the ladies of the neighbourhood meet regularly to have their hair done. Helped by her eager new assistant Annelle,(Amy Burton-Smith) wise-cracking Truvy dispenses shampoo, coffee and advice to her clients, including the town’s rich curmudgeon Ouiser Boudreaux,(Nichola Aldridge) a woman blessed with attitude and acerbic wit; the eccentric, but lovable millionaire Clairee Belcher; (Adele Reynolds) M’lynn Eatenton,(Lisa Fletcher) social leader and mother of Shelby Eatenton. (Emma Hackett) They engage in small town gossip, but when one of the group faces a trauma that affects them all, they draw on their strengths to support each other.

By turns hilarious and poignant, Steel Magnolias is a heart-warming portrait of friendship and love.

Robert Harling wrote the stage version of Steel Magnolias in ten days. His wife Kathy urged him to write something after the death of his sister Susan, whom the character Shelby is based on. "I wrote it to somehow get this true story off my chest and to celebrate my sister in the process," Harling said. That means all of the characters are based on real people from his hometown of Natchitoches, Louisiana. The play premiered in 1987 at the WPA Theatre in New York City.

Despite the snow and other misfortunes affecting our (TOADS) rehearsal schedules, Steel Magnolias was a very successful production. Feedback from the audience was positive and the majority enjoyed the show. There were a few issues with volume at times, and the nerves kicked in on a few occasions on the first night with just a couple of prompts needed, but everyone played their characters so well this was never an issue. Something I personally believe, and I’m certain the cast would agree is - we all felt the emotion, the tears, and the wonderful moments of laughter throughout the run of the play. And the audience felt it too. Many people said they’d cried, laughed and hung onto every word spoken. It was the reaction the director Helen Gould wanted and achieved.

There were some brilliant one-liners which the cast delivered on cue, and the reaction from the audience attests to this. Robert Harling wrote Steel Magnolias in memory of his sister, but I think in many ways he wrote it for everyone who has ever lost a loved one.

‘That’s the way it should be. Life goes on.’ Robert Harling.


Tons of Money - 14 May to 19 May

Revised by Alan Ayckbourn, originally by Will Evans & Arthur Valentine, Directed by Andrew Bell

An unsuccessful inventor has inherited the life interest in a fortune which reverts to his cousin George Maitland on his death. Unfortunately the inventor has accrued enormous debts and, as cousin George is thought to have died abroad, the inventor has the idea of ‘dying’ so he can resurrect himself as his cousin thus avoiding paying his debts. Inevitably complications arise!



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