Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Stage Door Theatre: Steel Magnolias (2 reviews)

The Stage Door Theatre opened its production of Steel Magnolias on September 24, 2010.
Revolving around Truvy's Beauty Parlor in a small parish in modern-day Louisiana, STEEL MAGNOLIAS is the story of a close-knit circle of friends whose lives come together there. As one character says "If you can't find anything good to say about anybody, come sit by me." Filled with humor and heartbreak, these "Steel Magnolias" make us laugh and cry as the realities of their lives and friendships unfold.
Michael Leeds directed a cast that included Merry Jo Cortada, Nikki Bromberg, Sally Bondi, Miki Edelman, Jana S. Tift, and Danielle Tabino.

Mary Damiano reviewed for the South Florida Theatre Review:
...a lackluster production that fails to illuminate the winning aspects of Robert Harling’s sentimental play.
...most of the actresses fail to find the humor in Harling’s southern-fried banter, which, when done well, is the one bright spot in the play. Comic timing is nonexistent, nor do they hit the right notes to get the laughs. Most of the cast is trapped in dreadful wigs, which doesn’t help the (intentional) humor or their characterizations.
Largely because they don't care enough about theatre to hire a proper theater critic, The Sun-Sentinel sent out fashion editor Rod Hagwood:
Yes, it is blasphemy to compare the cinematic version of Robert Harling's play with the far-more-focused live performance..
But he does it anyway.  Well, no, not really, because then we'd have some basis of comparison.  Instead he breezily declares that there was scenery-chewing going on, and more-or-less blurts out:
Directed with a strong sense of dialog's rhythm by Michael Leeds, the cast of Sally Bondi, Nikki Bromberg, Merry Jo Cortada, Miki Edelman, Danielle Tabino and Jana S. Tift deliver with sassy and wistful charm.

But it is Tift you won't be able to take your eyes off of, with her elegant Christine Baranski-like carriage and clenched jaw hinting at her character's dark fears. Even when she — for just a flash — loses her emotive footing in the more melodramatic scene late in Act Two, she is still hypnotic.
Talk about "polar opposites!" It's a shame that the Sun-Sentinel cares so little about its readers that they won't send a reviewer with a critical eye we can trust.  Because from these two reviews, if we grant both critics equal status, it's obvious they went to two different theatres and saw two different productions.

Steel Magnolias runs at the Stage Door Theatre through November 7.

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