The strong bond between six women from Louisiana shows through when Jaenicke Productions performs “Steel Magnolias,” which marries comedy and drama, will be on the stage of the Osterneck Auditorium from Friday through Sunday.
Emily Kelly, Claudia Warga, Catherine Ussery and Val Humphrey complete the Dixie-flavored cast. And there’s always something to gossip about for these live-wire ladies who have been life-long friends. Robert Harling’s play is centered around a beauty shop in the 1970s. The characters snappy one-liners make it difficult to see the show’s more serious nature.
Deborah Jaenicke, the show’s director, will step on stage as Clairee Belcher, a widow in her 60s who was once married to the former mayor. Her contemporary is Patty Cucco, who portrays a wealthy, curmudgeon Ouiser, who uses a tell-it-like-it-is attitude to crack up the room with her punchy jabs. Both are regulars at the salon.
Cucco, a Long Island native who lived in Manhattan for more than 25 years, relishes her role as the lovable town crank. She has made her stock-and-trade portraying “character roles.”
While gossip is what these women do best, the audience also sees the substance of each character.
The hub of the action is in the salon owned by Truvee Jones (Warga), who has recently hired a new beautician, Annelle (Humphrey), who is serious and religious.
“The women at her shop are her family,” Warga said. “Truvee is very nurturing, very mother-like and the peacemaker. She’s like a bartender in that people drop their problems in her lap.”
The drama of the show starts to peak around the time of Shellby’s wedding. Shelby (Ussery) is the prettiest girl in town and daughter of M’lynn (Kelly), a socially prominent career women in her 50s. The plot thickens when Shelby becomes sick and needs a kidney transplant. M’lynn breaks the serious news about her daughter to her salon sisters in a matter-of-fact manner.
“They all know each other so well and are a such a family that the transition to speaking regular while talking serious is easy,” Kelly said. “And our cast has developed a comfort level with one another that we do this kind of witty banter on and off the stage.”
If You Go …
What: Jaenicke Production’s “Steel Magnolias”
When: Friday and Saturday at 7 p.m.; Sunday at 2 p.m.
Where: The Osterneck Auditorium in Lumberton.
Information: To get tickets call (910) 736-9822 or visit jaenickeproductions.eventbrite.com