From February 17-20, the Randolph-Macon Drama Department put on the play “Steel Magnolias.” “Steel Magnolias” is the heartbreaking story of a group of small-town southern women with an incredible friendship that is proven strong as they deal with the loss of one of their own. The action is set in Truvy’s Beauty Salon in Chinquapin, Louisiana, where all of the ladies who are “anybody” in the town come to have their hair done.
The story was written by Robert Harling and was first produced in 1987 as a play. Two years later in 1989, “Steel Magnolias” was produced as a movie. The movie won a Golden Globe and a People’s Choice Award. The highly regarded production received mixed reviews at the onset of its release, but two weeks after its original release date, the film grossed over $15 million and stayed in the Top 10 list for 16 weeks.
When news broke that the Randolph-Macon Drama Department was going to be putting on its own adaptation of the production, many students were excited.
“I love the movie, and I wish I could have gone to the play,” junior Paloma Hack shared.
Sophomore Sean Ryan was fortunate enough to make it to the show.
“The show was well done. The main characters did a good job of evoking emotion when necessary and having good comedic timing. The audience responded well to a lot of the dialogue,” Ryan said.
Ryan went on to say that the chemistry between recently graduated senior Jessica Rawls, who played Shelby Eatenton, and freshman Victoria Drake, who played M’lynn Eatenton, was very strong. One of the most powerful moments of discourse between the two characters was when M’lynn found out her daughter was pregnant. M’lynn, in utter fear and concern for Shelby, said to her, “Your poor body has been through so much. Why would you deliberately do this to yourself?” Shelby responded by saying, “Diabetics have healthy babies all the time.” M’lynn replied, “You are special Shelby. There are limits to what you can do.”
In this exchange, Ryan felt that the actresses did a phenomenal job changing their emotions. M’lynn changed her tone from one of concern to one of anger and anguish, and Shelby changed her tone from one of nervousness to one of anger and disappointment.
The show was directed by Sydney Hinckle as her senior project in Drama, and it was a clear success. The actors were skilled and convincing. The audience could feel both the excitement and the heartbreak that the cast went through during the show. Also, as a testament to its success, people from multiple different towns and counties came out to see the show this past weekend.
With a relatively young cast composed of mostly freshmen, the show had a feeling of raw talent. Ultimately, the play was described as being alternately hilarious and touching—and, in the end, deeply revealing of the strength and purposefulness which underlies the antic banter of its characters.
-Kayla Koslosky ’18, Junior Features Editor