Review of ‘Steel Magnolias’ at The Queen’s Theatre

Category: Theatre reviews 15

Six women, who are drawn together by the belief that beauty comes out of a hairspray can, share the good and bad times in a beauty salon as they prove that ladies can be as delicate as a magnolia flower and as tough as steel.

BY MARK SEPPLE L-r Sarah Mahony, Gemma Salter, Gilian Cally, Tina Gray, Claire Storey, Lucy Wells

All 6 members of the cast were women and there were a lot of actresses that we had not seen at The Queen’s Theatre for a long time.  Shelby’s mother is played by Claire Storey, who we last saw as Fairy Carabosse in The Queen’s Theatre’s panto last year. In Steel Magnolias she returns as M’Lynn, mother of Shelby. Due to the high emotional nature of her storyline, M’Lynn is a difficult part to play and Claire Storey does an excellent job of portraying her during both the good times and bad

Shelby was played by Gemma Salter, who has not appeared in a ‘Cut to the Chase’ production at The Queen’s Theatre before, but has appeared in the ‘youth theatre’ and ‘Q club’. She does a fantastic job in playing the character of Shelby who suffers with diabetes, making you focus on her while she does a top job of portraying a hypoglycaemic attack

Two of the actresses that we have seen more recently at The Queens are Sarah Mahony and Lucy Wells, who both appeared ‘Roll Over Beethoven’. Sarah Plays the main beautician Mary Lynn (M’Lynn), a character that was played by Dolly Parton in the 1989 American movie and, along with the rest of the cast, Sarah does an excellent job of putting on an American accent. Lucy plays the character of trainee beautician Annelle and both she and Sarah do a good job of providing a lot of the comedy for the night.

One of my favourite characters of the night was Clairee, played by Tina Gray, who will often say the unexpected and provided a lot of the punchlines, you were to be sure of a giggle anytime this character spoke

Gillian Cally plays Ouiser who is the one everyone hates, but just like any family rebel, you can both the love and hatred that the other characters have for this black sheep of the family.

The subject of disability could have easily been the threadbare of this fun loving comedy but the writing of Robert Harling and talents of all the cut to the chase cast (but particularly Gemma Salter and Claire Storey) means that you care about the characters and shifts you from a simple spectator into a member of the family portrayed on stage, sharing in there laughter, pain and keeping you eager to know what happens next

There was a large delay when it came to scene changes and the music was not quite enough to cover this but the whole evening was a fun and emotional night that I would recommend for anyone to go and see

Ouiser – Gilian Cally
Clairee – Tina Mahony
Truvy – Sarah Mahony
Shelby – Claire Story
Annelle – Lucy Wells


Director – Liz Marsh

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