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Review: Good chemistry and storytelling in 'Steel Magnolias'

Janelle Devin as Truvy Jones and Amber Bosworth as Annelle Dupuy-Desoto during the dress rehearsal for the Prescott Center for the Arts production of Steel Magnolias that opens Thursday, April 9. (Les Stukenberg/The Daily Courier)

Janelle Devin as Truvy Jones and Amber Bosworth as Annelle Dupuy-Desoto during the dress rehearsal for the Prescott Center for the Arts production of Steel Magnolias that opens Thursday, April 9. (Les Stukenberg/The Daily Courier)

Robert Harling's "Steel Magnolias" has opened at Prescott Center for the Arts' Main Stage, directed by Layla Tenney. Starring Amber Bosworth, Janelle Devin, Marnie Uhl, Kelsey Claire, Julie Archambeau, Shari Graham and Chris Tenney, the show has a good story that's told well with the actors having some good chemistry with each other.

In the fictional northwestern Louisiana parish of Chinquapin, Truvy's salon is where the town's women gather routinely. The show covers how the women interact with conflict over three years, from Shelby's diabetes and the relationship between Clairee and Ouiser, to Annelle's personal growth and Truvy's relationships with the men in her family.

But at the heart of everything lies their deep friendship.

The story itself and the way it is told is quite good, with all of the action taking place in Truvy's Salon. All the women in the story have personal growth and changing times in their lives, which all happens off-stage. But what does happen on-stage are the catalysts for those times of growth and change. And unlike the film that spawned from the show's original run, there are no appearances by men. But what this does is it puts more focus on the main characters and lets them grow and develop with each other without having to focus on unnecessary characters. It also allows for some well-done humor to develop when the women report what the men are doing, such as drum loading a cannon. It also makes good use of the fourth wall, making it the wall in the salon with all the mirrors.

The cast also has great chemistry with each other. The way they act makes it seem like they really are best friends who have known each other for practically forever, or a developing friendship in Annelle's case. And their chemistry makes it really easy to see those bonds that brought them together and keep them together through good times and bad. Because when everything goes pear-shaped and life changes significantly, they're there for each other, which is acted so well that the audience will very much forget they are watching a play and feel like these women are living out their lives in front of them. This also speaks volumes about the director, who was able to steer the actors into bringing about such emotion.

Those familiar with the story and those who have never seen the show or film should definitely see "Steel Magnolias."

"Steel Magnolias" will be at the Prescott Center for the Arts, 208 N. Marina St., April 10 and 11 and 16-18 at 7:30 p.m., and April 12 and 18 at 2 p.m. Tickets are $20 general admission and $15 for students at 7:30 showings and $16 and $15 for 2 p.m. showings. Tickets can be purchased at www.pfaa.net.

- by Jason Wheeler, The Daily Courier; photos by Les Stukenberg.

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