Richard Marsh/Dearborn Press and Guide/May 1991
Because of its success on Broadway and the hit film version, “Steel Magnolias” was the choice play by many theatre groups this season. As such, Director George Popovich decided to offer the show in a different style last weekend at Henry Ford Community College.
The show was done arena-style, also known as theatre in the round. This marks the first area-style production in the area. About 130 play-goers were seated on the stage on all four sides of the set at each performance. This resulted in a much more intimate atmosphere, one which not even the movies or television can match. Because of the closeness, more aspects of the show had to be lifelike to make the production work, including running water and a working phone with audible voices coming from the other end. The experiment was a success in staging by Popovich, excellent work by the set, lights. sound and costume crew, and fine performances by the actresses. The group of six also adapted well to the arena theatre setting. On the acting side, all were able to effectively handle the Southern accents necessary for the roles.
Roseann J. Gruley makes an excellent Truvey although her characterization seemed a lot like Dolly Parton. Trudy Mason carried her role of M’Lynn well, especially when it came to her emotional outbreak late in the show. Tracy Spada really gave a feeling of insecurity to the part as Annell. Amy Armstrong deserves the biggest kudos, however. The role of Clariee was originally given to Pat White. Unfortunately, White was forced to drop out of the show because of serious illness. Armstrong stepped in a week before the show to take over for White and did so beautifully. The cast gave all they had into their performances, and received a well-deserved standing ovation.
Next up at Henry Ford Community College is “Kennedy’s Children ,” a drama which examines the shattered dreams of a lost generation, at 8 p.m. May 23-25.
- Truvey: Roseann J. Gruley
- M’Lynn: Trudy Mason
- Ouiser: Jennifer Sourbeck
- Shelby: Melissa Roberson
- Clairee: Amy Armstrong
- Annell: Tracey Spada