Steel Magnolias – Review by Bonnie Goldberg

Life often calls upon us to rise to the occasion and endure impossible loss and it is often our family and friends who rally around us and make the pain endurable. Nowhere is that message more visible than in the sisterhood of strong Southern women who populate Robert Harling’s touching story of friendship and survival. “Steel Magnolias” is now gracing the stage of Music Theatre of Connecticut until Sunday, November 24. Harling took the story of his sister Susan, her life and her death, and wove it into a saga of laughter and tears, the blessings of friendship in joy and in sorrow.

Truvy’s Beauty Parlor is more than just a place for cuts and curls, hair spray and permanent waves. It is a way of life for the ladies of Chinquapin, Louisiana as they mark weddings, anniversaries, births and deaths and share gossip, secrets and offer support and encouragement.

Raissa Katona Bennett’s Truvy is the mama hen who presides lovingly over her roost, watching lovingly her newest chick and hire Annelle (Rachel Rival) who finds comfort in religion and prayer as she tries to find her way.The rest of the close knit clan include Clairee (Cynthia Hannah) who has lost her prestigious position as the wife of the mayor but still wants respect and a little adventure, Ouiser (Kristi Carnahan) who thrives on being contrary, cranky and outspoken to conceal her heart of gold, M’Lynn (Kaia Monroe) who faces reality so clearly that it may be her undoing and M’Lynn’s daughter Shelby (Andrea Lynn Green) who is bursting to explore life’s possibilities and grab at the carousel’s brass ring.

These women are all regulars of Truvy’s, who prescribes to the adage “there is no such thing as natural beauty.” They celebrate Shelby’s marriage to Jackson and then hold her in their hearts when she decides, against medical advice, to create a little piece of immortality with a baby. As Shelby declares, “I’d rather have thirty minutes of wonderful than a lifetime of nothing special.” Pamela Hill directs a stellar cast on a set designed by Jessie Lizotte. For tickets ($35 -65), call MTC, 509 Westport Avenue, Norwalk (behind Nine West Shoes) at 203-454-3883 or online at Performances are Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m., with matinees Saturdays at 4 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m.

Discover for yourself why laughter through tears is Truvy’s favorite emotion. Don’t forget your box of Kleenex and please consider signing an organ donor card or adding that designation to your driver’s license.