REVIEW: Hub Theatre Company of Boston’s ‘Steel Magnolias’ boasts humor, heartache, and hairspray

A good story is usually rooted in truth.

Robert Harling’s ‘Steel Magnolias’ is partially based on a true story.  Harling wrote the play, ‘Steel Magnolias’ in 1987 and based it off of real people he knew in Louisiana.  In the popular 1989 film (which included a parade of famous actresses such as Dolly Parton, Olympia DukakisDaryl Hannah,  and Shirley MacLaine), the part of M’Lynn was portrayed by Sally Field and Julia Roberts was Shelby.  Harling based M’Lynn on his mother and Shelby (whose real name was Susan) on his sister.

Directed by Paula Plum, Hub Theatre Company of Boston celebrates the 30th anniversary of the 1989 film with comedy drama ‘Steel Magnolias’ continuing at Hub Theatre Company of Boston’s summer home, Club Cafe through Sunday, August 3.  This show is on a pay-what-you-can basis.  Click here for more information and tickets.

The Sleepless Critic also recently spoke to Hub Theatre of Boston Artistic Producing Director’s Lauren Elias about ‘Steel Magnolias,’ the future of Hub Theatre Company of Boston, and more.  Click here for the podcast.

Set entirely in Truvy’s Beauty Shop in Chinquapin, Louisiana in 1985, this bittersweet tale follows a group of vastly different women who find strength in each other through hardships and triumphs with a great deal of understanding, humor, and hairspray.  Though it has its share of serious themes, ‘Steel Magnolias’ offers more humor and relatable moments seeped in a wealth of 80s references that include mentions of Jane Fonda, and Elizabeth Arden.

Hub Theatre Company of Boston Steel Magnolias full cast 2

From L to R: Maureen Adduci as Ouiser, Liz Adams as M’Lynn, Oye Ehikhamhen as Shelby (center), Lauren Elias as Annelle, June Kfoury as Clairee, and Catherine Lee Christie as Truvy Photo courtesy of Hub Theatre Company of Boston

With bold costumes by Chelsea Kerl and Wig Master Caroline Clancy, the show impressively rewinds the clock into the 80s big hair era and memorable fashion sense while highlighting each woman’s distinct personality.  It is also refreshing to look at back at life at a time before the internet where people shared time, recipes, and hair tips in person.

Directed impressively by Paula Plum, ‘Steel Magnolias’ also thrives through its smart casting and the developing chemistry and growth between these primarily outspoken southern women, keeping this popular show fresh.  With a gift for gab and gossip, Catherine Lee Christie portrays Truvy Jones with charm and sass.  As a big fan of the movie, it is hard to imagine this part for anyone other than Dolly Parton, but Christie, in an array of distinct, sparkling, and mismatched fashion, rises to the occasion.  Her scenes with Lauren Elias as mysterious and humble Annelle make for some quirky, heartwarming moments.

Hub Theatre Company of Boston Steel Magnolias full cast

From L to Right: Maureen Aducci as Ouiser, Liz Adams as M’Lynn, Oye Ehikhamhen as Shelby (center), Lauren Elias as Annelle, June Kfoury as Clairee, and Catherine Lee Christie as Truvy Photo courtesy of Hub Theatre Company of Boston

Maureen Adduci’s sardonic, frank, and darkly amusing Ouiser delivers some of the most entertaining moments in the show.  Adduci’s exhausted scowl alone in Truvy’s cheery beauty salon is enough to crack a smile.  Her sarcastic facade rings true with the priceless line, “I don’t see plays because I can nap at home for free…and I don’t read books because if they are any good, they are going to make them into a miniseries.”  June Kfoury as Clairee, a stylish and gossip-driven widow with good intentions and a knowing smile, amuses herself by teasing Ouiser and their exchanges create their own spark.

However, the most captivating relationship is the family dynamic between Liz Adams as M’Lynn and Oye Ehikhamhen as M’Lynn’s daughter Shelby.  The push and pull between the two make it easy to see them as mother and daughter.  As in any mother-daughter relationship, one minute they exchange nagging barbs and the next, nurturing affection.

Hub Theatre Company of Boston Steel Magnolias Liz Adams as MLynn and Oye Ehikhamhen

Liz Adams as M’Lynn and Oye Ehikhamhen as Shelby Photo courtesy of Hub Theatre Company of Boston

Liz Adams portrays M’Lynn with a quiet, palpable tightness and a bundle of suppressed feelings.  It is easy to feel the weight of the world on her shoulders.  This M’Lynn has a bit of a tougher edge and a dry sense of humor as she meticulously looks after everyone but herself.  Though M’Lynn and Shelby are both dramatic and stubborn, Oye Ehikhamhen as Shelby is a ceaselessly optimistic force where happiness is a requirement, not an option.  With a broad smile and easy chemistry with the entire cast, Oye as Shelby shines in a charismatic, compassionate performance.

Club Cafe’s stage is an air-conditioned, intimate space that includes tables set up for food and drinks.  In honor of the production, Club Cafe offers themed specialty cocktails such as Truvy’s Twister, Blush and Bashful, Wack-A-Ouiser, and Chinquapin Parish Punch.

Directed by Paula Plum, rewind the clock and take a trip south to Truvy’s for Hub Theatre Company of Boston’s ‘Steel Magnolias’ at Club Café  at 209 Columbus Ave through Saturday, August 3. This show is on a pay-what-you-can basis.  Click here for more information about Hub Theatre and tickets.  Hub Theatre Company of Boston is also taking donations of beauty products and toiletries at every performance to be donated to Rosie’s Place and other charities.

Designer and CEO Sara Campbell talks giving bigger as she hosts Boston Women in Media and Entertainment charitable event on Giving Tuesday

Sara Campbell Ltd. knows about giving.  They have donated to a long list of organizations nationwide over the years from the American Cancer Society in Atlanta, GA to the Young Women’s League of Canaan in Caanan, CT.  On Giving Tuesday on November 27, it was just another day for this shop to give back.

Dressed in a stylish blue and black dress is Sara Campbell, designer, founder and CEO of women’s clothing boutique shop, Sara Campbell Ltd.  She hosted Boston Women in Media and Entertainment (BWME) for Giving Tuesday, opening up her shop for great deals on her fashion line with 20 percent of the proceeds benefiting Cradles to Crayons, a local non-profit that fights childhood poverty.  On Giving Tuesday, attendees were encouraged to contribute a new coat for a child age 5 to 17 to be delivered to Cradles to Crayons.

This is Sara’s second time hosting BWME at this location and her sixth year hosting this event.  Designed in the USA, Sara Campbell Ltd. has 25 locations nationwide.  The Sleepless Critic and BWME co-founder and Magic 106.7’s Candy O’Terry spoke with this event and the act of giving.  Click here to learn more about BWME, how to join, and the opportunities they offer all year.  Click here to learn more about Sara Campbell, her collections, the company’s community involvement and much more.

Sleepless Critic:  You work a lot with Cradles to Crayons.  What does Giving Tuesday mean to you?

Sara Campbell:  Giving Tuesday means nothing to me because I don’t believe it should be one day a year.  As a shop owner, a manager to my employees, and all the people I am responsible for, our mission is to give back and serve our customers, our community, serve each other as a company, and everyone who works together.  It’s service.  I believe that is what small business is and should be.  It’s delivering that act of kindness that makes a difference in somebody’s life today.  Every day, I have my employees write up an act of kindness they did today in our stores.  When I get a blank, I am not happy.

I raised my business knowing I was supposed to give back, whether it’s buying someone a cup of coffee or paying a toll which could be 25 cents at the meter.  I was taught to give what you can and that’s your way of putting back what has been given to you.  It is what feeds our business, but it doesn’t mean it’s easy.  You have to have faith for whatever the journey is.

It’s getting more and more obvious these days how much we have to breed kindness, thoughtfulness, and empathy.  Faith is hard, especially when it’s eCommerce and it is Cyber Monday.  The tariffs in China are hugely impacting me.  I’m made in the USA and we don’t make zippers in the US.  I have to import supplies and it’s going to be passed to the consumer because my payroll is increasing.  My staff deserves raises, healthcare, insurance, everything.  As a strategy, the only way we are getting through it is hopefully to grow and have our bricks and mortars survive and prosper, but it takes our loyal customers to make that happen.

Candy O’Terry:  I’m a loyal customer!

Sara:  You are!  Giving Tuesday drives a lot of prosperity to different organizations that wouldn’t get it otherwise.  To that end, I am for Giving Tuesday.  The drive to get bigger is I can give bigger.  I can do more.  It’s not that we are getting bigger and getting a bigger house.  I’d like to get out of debt (laughs.)

BWME Candy O'Terry

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Candy:  The Sara Campbell brand is selling all across the country.

Sara:  It takes a village of friends, customers, team workers in this office, in the sample shop, and in our stores.  I’ve had this idea that I’m going to take a picture of all our stores and we’re going to cut out paper dolls.  They are all going to be holding hands around the building.  That’s what community and this wonderful night is all about.  It’s the women who are part of Boston Women and Entertainment.  So much camaraderie excites us and helps us get through the dark days.

Candy:  I met Sara about ten years ago.  I interviewed her for a show called Exceptional Women on Magic 106.7 and she became my friend.  As the years passed, it doesn’t matter if I do 50 or 60 events a year, if I can show up wearing a Sara Campbell dress and say in front of 1,000 people if they like my Sara Campbell dress.  I am so loyal to her because she is a local designer with a heart of gold.

Sara:  I will never say no to you.  I don’t care what you need or want because you are delivering the message through you to bigger places.

Candy:  See that is what Giving Tuesday is all about.  Good goes around.  That’s why we are here tonight because if I can introduce ten new people to the Sara Campbell brand and they buy Sara Campbell and they tell their friends, it’s a win-win all around.

We love local charity Cradles to Crayons so much and will leave this place with two giant bags for them.  Sara donated about ten jackets for children.  We’re going to write them a nice check and I’m going to show up with this stuff to our giving factory tomorrow.  We’re going to help local Boston kids walk to school with a beautiful, warm pink coat on looking like a million bucks.

Sara:  I learned the beauty of giving a brand new coat to a child from Kids Clothes Club, another local organization started in Brookline, MA.  We have had kids write us to say they slept in their new coat in the kitchen last night because they just didn’t want to take it off.  It’s so good for their self esteem.  I’m going to write Cradles to Crayons a check so they can go get the size for the exact kid they have in mind.

Candy:  When we walk out of here tonight because of the kindness of these women and Sara, we’ll be able to donate something to children in our own community and that means so much to us.

Sara:  We have to take care of each other.  Candy, thank you for orchestrating such a fun night.  You are a change maker.

Cohasset Youth Theatre proudly presents the romantic comedy, ‘Legally Blonde the Musical, Jr.’

From fashion extraordinaire to law student, Elle Woods strives to show Harvard she is so much more than a blond in pink heels.  Based on the hit romantic comedy that shot Reese Witherspoon to stardom, Cohasset Dramatic Club’s partner, Cohasset Youth Theatre, proudly presents Legally Blonde the Musical Jr. for two nights only on Friday, April 28 through Saturday, April 29.  All performances will take place at Cohasset Dramatic Club’s Town Hall Theatre in Cohasset, Massachusetts at 7:30 p.m.  Call 617-852-0091 for more information and for tickets.

Legally Blonde the Musical Jr. is sure to dazzle audiences through its engaging tale about a perky California sorority girl with an indomitable spirit who sets her sights on Harvard Law School to win back her high school boyfriend.  She makes some surprising friends along the way and learns she is much stronger than she ever expected. Legally Blonde the Musical Jr. has all the frothy magic of the original movie including the musical numbers Omigod, You GuysSerious, and Positive that will leave audiences with a happy heart.

Starring Halle Pratt as Elle Woods, catch Cohasset Youth Theatre’s Legally Blonde the Musical Jr. from Friday, April 28 through Saturday, April 29 at 7:30 p.m.  All performances take place at Cohasset Town Hall Theatre, 41 Highland Ave in Cohasset, Massachusetts. Call 617-852-0091 for further details and tickets.  Tickets are also available at the door and the show is suitable for all ages.  Follow Cohasset Dramatic Club on Facebook for updates and more information and details on their upcoming shows.