MONMOUTH -- “Steel Magnolias” takes place in a small Louisiana town, but it could just as well be your corner of Maine. It’s about six ladies of different ages, personalities and backgrounds who exemplify the power of friendship.
Monmouth Community Players is staging a heart-warming and truthful production of this popular play at Cumston Hall with three remaining performances Feb. 8-10.
Adam Blais directs a talented ensemble cast that captures the importance of friendship when life-altering circumstances beset two of them. Blais keeps the show on a believable course as the ladies cross paths in their frequent visits to Truvy’s carport beauty salon. There’s a generous mix of humor in the good-natured bantering among Truvy’s clientele, and there’s genuine concern when tragedy threatens.
Colleen Mahan plays M’Lynn, the mother of Shelby, a young lady who is getting ready for her wedding later in the day. Throughout the show, Mahan delivers a solid performance that underscores the quiet strength with which she and her friends deal with a heart-breaking situation that develops through 18 months.
Mahan is 2011-2013 chairman of the Monmouth Community Players’ board of directors.
Sabrina Yocono of Lewiston portrays Shelby, who is dealing with diabetes but is determined to lead a normal life, although doctors warn her against child-bearing.
Two of the beauty shop patrons are opposites in many ways, but similar in the ease with which the interact as neighbors and friends.
Kathleen L. Nation, who plays Ouiser, is a veteran of Monmouth Community Players' productions dating back to the inaugural show, “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat,” in 1993. Her portrayal of Ouiser (whose name is Louisa but is called “Weeza”) is relaxed and sociable, despite her cantankerous demeanor. The townspeople know her has one of the community's richest residents, but she persists in wearing gardening overalls and hat.
Clairee is played by Jeanne Fletcher. She and Ouiser continually trade good-natured verbal jabs throughout the show. Fletcher spent 25 recent years in England that included choral work with the London Symphony and Royal Philharmonic, as well as work in Boston with the Boston Pops and Poston Symphony Orchestra.
Emily Trefethen plays Annelle, a newcomer to town who, at the show’s beginning, is getting a trial as Truvy’s assistant. Annelle is a bit of enigma to the beauty shop regulars, who can’t quite figure out if Annelle is married, or why she’s staying at a boarding house. Annelle changes a lot in the show’s four scenes covering almost two years. She fits in just fine, gets a for-sure husband, and embraces a not-so-subtle evangelistic church life.
Trefethen, another MCP veteran, also did the costuming for “Steel Magnolias.”
Truvy, the beauty shop owner, is played by Julie Poulin. She is known to area theatre-goers for performances in “Mystery for Hire” dinner theatre productions for the past 20 years, as well as with “Mainly Improv.”
Truvy’s role holds the entire group together as she gives the bride-to-be treatment to Shelby while being an adept hostess for her customers. She also has taken Annelle under her wing as the weeks went by.
Original music for this show was composed by Mike French.
“Steel Magnlias” is all about how the women of Chinquapin, La., come together to support each other with humor and love. There are no histrionics or excessive melodrama in this play by Robert Harling.
The story is based on the death of Robert Harling’s younger sister, Susan Harling Robinson, a diabetic. Harling felt it was important to include the way the characters used humor and lighthearted conversations to cope with the seriousness of the underlying situations.
The play is alternately hilarious and touching. It’s filled with clever one-liners and zingers that abound wherever good friends gather. In the end, “Steel Magnolias” reveals the strength and purposefulness which underlies the antic banter of its characters.
Performances at Cumston Hall are at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Feb. 8-9, and at 2 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 10. Tickets are $12 for adults and $10 for students and seniors.
For tickets call 514-4929 or visit www.monmouthcommunityplayers.com.