‘Steel Magnolias’ trades in sincerity, and it pays dividends

  • The Cast of Steel Magnolias. From left: Pamela White, Brenny Rabine, Katelyn Manfre, Kathy Manfre and Lisa Bostnar. Photo by William Howell—

Friday, February 17, 2017

In an age where cynicism is all the rage, perhaps something earnest is necessary to put things in perspective. Luckily for the residents of Peterborough, impassioned sincerity is being produced in bucketfuls over at the Peterborough Players in their production of “Steel Magnolias.” Yes, over in Truvy’s Salon, emotion isn’t frowned upon, and an outburst can be truly appreciated if appropriate. In that monochromatically turquoise establishment, six women talk with love and goodwill as if there was no other way.

Backing up, “Steel Magnolias” is the story of six women of varying ages in a small Louisiana town. One of them, Truvy (Brenny Rabine), owns a salon that has become the women’s gathering place. Members include a mother-daughter pairing, a new employee, and two rich older women. The title refers to the women, who are as strong as steel but as fragile as a magnolia flower.

The aforementioned earnestness isn’t to say the play is bereft of humor. Nothing could be further from the truth. The six women that “Steel Magnolias” chooses to focus in on all have their moments of sly wit, biting criticism, and laugh out loud moments. Yet, underneath that is a permanent sense of love for one another that emanates with no sign of stopping.

Each member of the cast imbues her designated character with such a sense of life and specificity that mere minutes into the play it is hard to imagine that these women haven’t been friends for years. Throughout most of the production, a sense of pleasant lightheartedness fills the theater, which would absolutely be impossible without the expert portrayals that each actress provides. Then, when the play takes a turn towards the profound near its end, they all prove that dramatic chops are no issue either. The standout is Lisa Bostnar as M’Lynn, who is all but defined by her family, most significantly her daughter. If you’re one of the few that doesn’t know the story, I won’t spoil it, but know that Bostnar gives a monologue that would be worth the price of admission all on its own.

Truly, in a time of frigidity both literal and figurative, take some time out and go visit a salon. The women there are tough, loving, and perhaps warm enough to melt even the coldest of hearts.

“Steel Magnolias” runs through Feb. 26 at the Peterborough Players. For tickets and more information, call 603-924-7585 or visit www.peterboroughplayers.org.