I just came in from seeing “Steel Magnolias” at Triad Stage here in Greensboro. And it was good.
I know Triad Stage and other Regional Theatres need to do crowd pleasers like “Steel Magnolias”. They bring in a large audience, that will hopefully come back again for other shows and help to build an audience for live theatre. Shows like this also bring in a lot of cash. But they also create an interesting experience for Season Ticket holders, like me, who would not have gone to see “Steel Magnolias” if it were not part of the Season. It gives us the chance revisit plays from our pasts. And sometimes these new visits surprise us.
As usual, at Triad Stage, the production values were wonderful and the acting was excellent- all that we expect from Triad Stage.
The problem, for me, was the play.
I’ve probably seen “Steel Magnolias” too many times, both on stage and film, but it has been several years since I’ve seen it. I’ve probably also heard the lines too many times, but in this production, there did seem to be some laugh lines that were missed.
And you know what? It just wasn’t as good a play as I remembered from seeing it years ago.
Don’t get me wrong, there is a lot of heart in this show, some memorable characters and some funny lines. You can’t help but be drawn into the lives of and care about these upper middle class Louisiana women. But don’t look too closely at the play itself. The first scene, in particular, goes on way too long…
I was also surprised at how rooted “Steel Magnolias” was in the 1980’s and how dated it seemed now. Times have changed so much more than I realized since the times in which this play was set. I’m not sure the cultural references make sense to anyone under 40, but then that’s not “Steel Magnolias” audience.
And it was almost a full house on Easter Sunday.
If you love “Steel Magnolias”, go see this production. Especially if you’ve never seen it on stage and only know it from the movie. You won’t see a better production with so many fine actresses around here any time soon. It’s definitely a pleasant evening in the theatre and it received a standing ovation at the end of tonight’s show.
Just don’t be too surprised, either, if the magic just isn’t there. It’s not that they don’t try and succeed, on so many levels, at Triad Stage. It’s just that the play itself isn’t as good as I remembered it being all those years ago…
And that might be the adjustment that I’m struggling with…