CENTERVILLE – As a single 20-something male, the idea of going to see “Steel Magnolias” did not thrill me. But part of being a part of the UTBA means going to shows you probably wouldn’t attend otherwise. This latest production by Rodgers Memorial Theatre certainly changed my mind about the show. This is by far the strongest production I’ve seen at Rodgers and I’m very excited to see more.
The story is probably familiar to most. The 90-minute show is comprised of just four scenes spanning three and a half years. All take place in the local beauty salon run by Truvy (Missy Riffle/Angela C. Brown) and her new employee Annelle (Melissa Robinson Hurst/Adren Swenson). The rest of the cast includes Shelby (Ashley Gardner Carlson/Jillian Tirado) with her mother M’Lynn (Robin M. Edwards/Jane Merrell Huefner) and two more neighbors: Clairee (Chris Brown/Linda Jean Stephenson) and ouiser (Meredith Gibson/Rebecca Hess).
I attended the Saturday evening performance and was incredibly pleased by the performance. This marvelous group of women has formed one of the strongest ensembles I have seen in Davis County. Each was wonderfully convincing in her own right and bring together a simple and powerful story of the beauty, pain and laughter experienced in Chinquapin, Louisiana. The story is immediately approachable and applicable to any household. Director Leslie Giles-Smith has done beautiful work bringing this story to the Centerville stage.
Special compliments go to the costume designer Sandy Hunsaker. The costuming for the production was subtle, strong and perfectly captured the spirit of these women and their community. Set designer Scott VanDyke and scenic artist Tammy Coleman created a clear design that transported me to 1980s Louisiana.
This is really great work by Rodgers. It’s so refreshing to not only see a non-musical performance in the space, to not be deafened by overzealous sound reinforcement, but also to see quality acting and direction on the community stage.