STEEL MAGNOLIASby: Robert Harling
Garland Civic Theatre
Directed by Juan M. Perez
Produced by: Kerra Sims
Production Stage Manager: Rustin Rolen
Lighting Design: Meghan Settle
Scene Design: Juan M. Perez
Costume Design: Hannah Bartholomew
Sound Design: Juan M. Perez and Rustin Rolen
Properties: Lynn Malden & Rebekka Kopeke
Truly: Marilyn B. Twyman
Annelle: Calli Rose Young-Windle
Claire: Lucia A. Welch
Shelby Meghan Stewart
M’Lynn: Jennifer Dejohn Frawley
Ouiser: Lori Yeary
Reviewed Performance: 12/2/2022
Reviewed by Scott Lee Clayton, Associate Critic for John Garcia's THE COLUMN
Twyman’s Truvy is quite lovely, as she really brought us into her world and shows us the amount of love that she shows for her clients and friends in her salon. What I absolutely loved with Marilyn B. Twyman’s portrayal was her sense of urgency in keeping the peace and always looking to resolve the issues the minute conflict hits, which leads me to my next point which I absolutely loved and that is the mother/daughter dynamic of M’Lynn and Shelby. Shelby Meghan Stewart is a story of perseverance and determination as she doesn’t let her medical battles hinder her from being the go getter she is with wanting to have a child despite all the challenges that come with it. Dejohn Frawley’s portrayal of M’Lynn is very touching as while when she tries to do what is best for her daughter, she realizes at the play’s conclusion that sense of regret when she realizes that she should have let her daughter done what she wanted to do and not question every waking move that she did in her medical trials that Shelby faces. Claire played by Lucia A Welch was a divine delight as she really was the life of the party and in a sense had the stereotypical supportive yet loving nurturing person each family has. The highlights for me were the bubbly and energetic Lori Yeary’s portrayal as Ouiser, as she really owned that stage with wit and comedic prowess. Yeary brings excellent comedic timing in this which really lighten show which I thoroughly enjoyed. Another highlight for me would be Annelle played by Calli Rose Young-Windle. Calli was perfect in everyday as we all have that religious yet positive outlook quality person that a family dynamic has as Calli brings us this sense of joy and “happy to be here” attitude.
Juan M. Perez wore multiple hats in this production as the Sound Designer, Set Designer, and even the director of this show. Perez does a fantastic job of engrossing us in Trudy’s Salon in Louisiana as the set really brings us a sense of reality as if we are actually in Truvy’s world. The one thing I appreciated in Perez’s direction was the dynamics and sub-relationships each of these ladies has with each other, which really ties together a strong family dynamic and really hits each crisis in the show with fervor as he takes each crises point which really paces the show really well as if you were on a roller coaster of emotion. Furthermore, Perez doesn’t even play into those individualistic family stereotypes each of these family members has but drives this story by the dynamics and qualities each character has to show how strong the bond is between the families. In regard to sound design by Perez and Rolen, it is perfect in every way as I felt it was very appropriate for the world we were brought into, especially with Meghan Settle’s Lighting design which really compliments Juan’s scenic design. When looking at costumes, Hannah Bartholomew does a fantastic job in making each of these characters come to life throughout all the events of these shows. Another highlight would have to be the Props Design by Lynn Malden & Rebekka Kopeke as all of the props in this show really engross us in the world that Perez creates and it’s almost as if you created a sense of intimacy and realism as you feel you are really in Truvy’s Salon in Northern Louisiana.
Steel Magnolias presented by Garland Civic Theatre is a pure delight and really teaches us a strong lesson in family ties and dynamics which again shows us who your family really is in your highs and lows.