Archive for Steel Magnolias


Posted in Hot Off The Press with tags , , , , on May 13, 2017 by Ringer
Steel Magnolias

Biddeford City Theater’s cast of STEEL MAGNOLIAS (l-r): Mary Boucher, Candy Jamerson, Rebecca Cole, Maddy Jarvis, Elizabeth Lester, Jessica Fidalgo.

May 2017

City Theater presents Robert Harling’s dynamic comedy-drama STEEL MAGNOLIAS, a touching play that unravels the layers of tangent relationships among a group of very different Southern women whose lives are presented through the prism of their one common social setting, Truvy Jones’ in-home beauty salon.

It’s Spring of 1987 and in the northwestern Louisiana parish of Chinquapin there’s excitement and anticipation in the air, particularly at Truvy’s Beauty Spot where the ladies are prepping for Shelby’s wedding.  The salon chat is quick, upbeat and funny, revealing diverse personalities and a colorful picture of the quirky locale.

Suddenly, Shelby has a diabetic episode that confronts the eternal hope of spring with the reality of serious medical challenges that could—and does—impact her life.  Shelby’s journey is the backdrop of the story— from her wedding day to the birth of her child, through her diabetic episodes, dialysis, kidney transplant and untimely passing.

Based on Harling’s real-life experience with his sister’s death, the play is a testament to the love, friendship and support of the female characters who, as the title suggests, “are as delicate as magnolias but as tough as steel.”

STEEL MAGNOLIAS is a tender, heart-warming piece that requires a strongly-connected ensemble cast of women who can pour out their stage craft, turn on a dime and effectively sell all the range of emotions that the playwright has embedded in his work, from laugh-out-loud hilarity to intense despair.  The 1989 award-winning film adapation is arguably the highest recognized version of STEEL MAGNOLIAS which starred Julia Roberts, Sally Field, Shirley Maclaine, Olympia Dukakis, Dolly Parton and Daryl Hannah.

For City Theater’s production, Director Linda Sturdivant has managed to muster a divergent troupe of lovely, talented, women who competently and confidently succeed in reaching Harling’s creative criteria—to the delight and enthrallment of a very engaging audience.

Maddy Jarvis, a senior at Bonny Eagle High School, skillfully handles the role of Shelby with clarity, charm and just the right amount of naivety and optimism.  Rebecca Cole plays M’Lynn, Shelby’s Mom, subtly balancing M’Lynn’s assertive, self-reliant motherly instincts to protect her child at all costs with her own inner fears of losing her daughter.  Cole’s impassioned climax in the final scene is an emotional feat, a Kleenex moment not one eye in the audience escapes.

The role of Truvy is aptly handled by Jessica Fidalgo, who instinctively multi-tasks her way around the salon, wearing many hats as business owner, employer, social host, caring friend, etc., making sure everyone is taken care of.  Elizabeth Lester is quite amusing in her portrayal of Annelle, the meek new girl at the salon who slowly becomes an integral part of the ladies’ circle.

Keeping the comedy front-and-center—at any given moment—are Mary Boucher and Candy Jamerson whose character interpretations of Clairee and Ouiser, respectively, guarantee the guffaws don’t outweigh the tears.  Both ladies are “seasoned” actresses who know precisely how to deliver the zingers and one-liners they’ve been commissioned with (think Elaine Stritch).

STEEL MAGNOLIAS runs through May 27th, Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 PM and Sundays at 2 PM.  City Theater is located at 204 Main St., downtown Biddeford.  FMI: 207-282-0849 or


–Louis Philippe



Posted in Recent Press Releases with tags , , , , on September 19, 2015 by Ringer

Steel Magnolias Cast

September 2015

The Footlights Theatre of Falmouth kicked off its third season with a stellar production of Robert Harling’s STEEL MAGNOLIAS, remarkably bringing to light many milestones that are worthy of celebrating. Here are three: First, another shining example of superb live theater brought to you by The Footlights’ creative team. Bravo!

STEEL MAGNOLIAS is a powerful and gratifying comedy-drama about the implicit bond between a group of six women in Chinquapin, Louisiana, where Truvy Jones’ in-home beauty parlour has become the intersection of all their life journeys and the gathering place to share all womanly topics, from life to death…and life again.

Based on Harling’s experience with his sister’s death, STEEL MAGNOLIAS beautifully and emblematically personifies the unequivocal strength of steel and the femininity, nobility and perseverance that the magnolia flower has come to symbolize, all wrapped up in womankind. It is a roller-coaster ride of triumph and tragedy, fun and frolic, a delightful profile of Southern living, with perfectly executed yin-yang hilarity and pathos. In Truvy’s own words of wisdom: “Laughter through tears is my favorite emotion.”

STEEL MAGNOLIAS (the play versus the movie) is a momentous and challenging ensemble piece. Honestly, for this script to be effective and successful as it was meant to be requires an exemplary group of creatively righteous and seasoned actors capable of letting themselves be taken over by their characters.  To this end, The Footlights can celebrate its second noteworthy milestone, i.e. Director Michael J. Tobin’s uncanny ability to cast the cream-of-the-crop for yet another flawless ensemble show.

Each member of this tight-knit ensemble is a master of her own stage skills, bringing a rich background and theater experience to their role: Jaymie Chamberlin as Truvy, Jessica Libby as Shelby, Cindy O’Neil as Ouiser, Paula Price as Clairee, Cheryl Reynolds as M’Lynn and Amy Torrey as Annelle. Individually, they are consummate professionals who know how to weave a monster thread with perfect dramatic emotion and supreme comic delivery—at times all in the same breath. Collectively, this cast is unsurpassable for its entertainment value and deserves the instant standing ovation they receive.

Third noteworthy milestone is the very fact that The Footlights is now in its third season. Having established itself as a class act theater and a gem to patrons of live local theater, The Footlights can celebrate its reputation and wild array of offerings—from visionary to schmaltzy, everything in between, and everything served up with consistent perfection. Take an extra bow for all that hard work, creativity and passion that lights up the stage for appreciative patrons and provides a stable of professional experience and lasting friendships for the herd of thespians whose journeys intersect at The Footlights, much the same as Truvy’s Beauty Spot.

STEEL MAGNOLIAS runs through October 1st, on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays at 7:30 PM. The Footlights Theater is located at 190 US Route 1 in Falmouth. FMI and tickets, call 747-5434 or visit

A stellar show. A superb cast. A third season. Cheers!


–Louis Philippe