Last updateMon, 29 Apr 2019 1pm


Steel Magnolias Steals the Show at Monmouth

Steel Magnolias 1Highlighting the interconnected lives of southern women as ‘as delicate as magnolias but as tough as steel,’ the University’s Department of Music and Theatre proudly presents Robert Harling’s touching 1987 dramatic comedy, Steel Magnolias, directed by Dr. John Burke.

Using the intimate Lauren K. Woods Theatre as its setting, this production of Steel Magnolias is deeply emotional, with an eye-catching set and a cast of intensely dedicated players.

According to the official University page for the 2019 spring production, Steel Magnolias “follows six Louisiana women as they gather in their small-town beauty parlor to gossip, complain, and share the joys and sorrows they face in their lives. Despite differences in age, backgrounds, and attitudes, their camaraderie and sense of humor help them grow through both good and bad times.”

The show opens on the preparations of the wedding of Shelby Eatenton-Latcherie, played by London Jones in the fictional northwestern Louisiana parish of Chinquapin.

Shelby is the daughter of driven career-woman M’Lynn Eatenton, played by Samantha Truglio, and her wedding is occurring later in the day.

They visit successful business owner Truvy Jones’, portrayed by Erin Clemente, in-home beauty parlor, which becomes the regular meeting spot for the subsequent cast of characters.

The play covers the span of occurrences over the next three years with Shelby’s Type 1 diabetes.

Highlighted are Shelby’s controversial decision regarding having a child, Clairee Belcher and her friendship with the ‘curmudgeon’ Ouiser Boudreaux, the personal and spiritual transformation of Annelle Dupuy-Desoto, and Truvy’s overarching relationships with men in her family.

Each actor in Steel Magnolias lent a beautiful and developed progression in the way their characters interacted with each other, dealing with distinctive yet united life struggles.

Jones handled the role of Shelby with grace and expertise, capturing the gentle nature of the character through a condition that can prove to be world-shattering.

Truglio dutifully took the highs and lows of mother M’Lynn, impactfully conveying her heartbreaking arc of emotion.

Steel Magnolias 2The actress embraced her role, which moved the audience.

Clemente provided a wonderful foundation to the play as Truvy, lending much joy, gossip, and ultimate support at the helm of her salon.

Being that the show’s characters required a certain Southern twang, each member of the cast truly developed their speech styles to fit the role; each accent was consistent and convincing.

The set was immersive, conveying the distinct feeling of the late 1980’s fully.

With its vintage black-and-white checkerboard flooring, real salon equipment, and tiny personal details (like newspapers, bouquets of flowers, and mannequin heads with permed wigs atop), the set thrust an audience member directly into the group of women.

As the actors got their hair done onstage, one could almost imagine themselves being called next to the styling chairs.

The poignancy of the material was conveyed with seriousness, but the comedic moments were thoroughly effective, providing a true and realistic balance.

Monmouth’s Steel Magnolias ran from March 6 to 10 and March 12 to 14, lending audiences a real-life view of friendships, losses, and new beginnings through a cast of admirable and complex female characters.

PHOTOS TAKEN by Samantha Truglio

Contact Information

The Outlook
Jules L. Plangere Jr. Center for Communication
and Instructional Technology (CCIT)
Room 260, 2nd floor

The Outlook
Monmouth University
400 Cedar Ave, West Long Branch, New Jersey

Phone: (732) 571-3481 | Fax: (732) 263-5151