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[whitespace] Mixed Bouquet

By Kiet Tran

Easy Street Theatre Company's production of Robert Harling's Steel Magnolias, although not yet in full bloom, still offers an evening of good theater, a window into the lives of five women who share joys and sorrows with each other with laughter, curlers and Miss Clairol at Truvy's beauty salon.

It is hard to go wrong with writing as good as Harling's, and the cast of veteran actors handles it nicely, although rough at times. Meg Herz Harlor's Clairee Belcher is delivered with impeccable comic timing--always earning lots of laugh when she delivers a punchline. Amy Ginder as the nervous, nerdy Annelle provides clear, crisp characterization. Joni Sampson as the bitter spinster, Ouiser, and Ann Stavinoha as larger-than-life salon queen Truvy lacked the panache the characters demand. As Shelby, Summer Reeve didn't seem to listen to what other characters were saying, therefore turning in a stilted performance. LeAnne Ravinale as the matron, M'Lynn Eatonton, steals the show with an endearing performance highlighting the trials of motherhood.

Though the show displays flashes of brilliance, it never establishes a clear relationship between M'Lynn and Shelby as mother and daughter. At its worst, this Steel Magnolias is calculated and passionless. At its best, however, the show is funny, charming and endearing.

Easy Street Theatre Company's production of Robert Harling's 'Steel Magnolias' runs at the Actors' Theater, 1001 Center St, Santa Cruz, 8pm Thursday, Friday and Saturday through June 24. (458.3614)

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From the June 21-28, 2000 issue of Metro Santa Cruz.

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