by Dooby Harvey
A catchy selection of 80’s pop music plays at an empty hair salon adorned with posters of big-haired glam models, as you wait for the show to begin at J-Town Playhouse’s production of Robert Harling’s stage dramedy, Steel Magnolias. The vibe is fun, but you can’t shake the feeling that some darker secrets are about to be revealed.
Curiosity is further aroused when the actresses take the stage and banter in a warm southern accent, transporting you to small-town Louisiana, and making you feel cozy and welcome. The seemingly casual small talk and juicy salon gossip between a group of ladies who are all too familiar with each other, slowly spins a web of intrigue leading up to bigger plot reveals; as each character offers a glimpse of her inner struggles. You’re left hanging on to every word, and laughing from every joke, as you try to guess what comes next.
The cast couldn’t seem more natural as they go about the daily bits and bobs of grooming and styling, or just waiting around reading a magazine. They do a fantastic job of instantly changing up the mood when needed, and of genuinely supporting each other through adversity. Abigail Ellis (Truvy) seems to have teleported straight from the 80’s as the friendly hostess and social glue of the bunch, Talya Bem (Shelby) beams as an optimistic southern belle who faces life’s challenges with a smile, Miriam Metzinger (M’lynn) convincingly assumes the role of mother lioness forced to accept the limits of parenting, Sorah Grotsky (Annelle) sweetly plays an insecure young hair-stylist silently(?) bearing her cross, Tova Rubenstein (Clairee) and Andrea Katz (Ouiser) are both provoking and endearing as the town elder and town grump respectively.
Besides a handful of accent slips, there’s really not much to quibble about. Steel Magnolias delivers on its promise of laughter and tears. This is a show well-designed, well-directed, and well worth watching!
“Steel Magnolias” is presented by J-Town Playhouse at AACI Jerusalem under the leadership of Shiri Berzack (director), Jessica Musnitzky (assistant director), and Jenn Fleischer & Aviella Trapido (producers). There are only 7 performances left, on March 16 at 20:00, March 17 at 17:00 & 20:15, March 23 at 20:00, March 27 at 19:30, and March 28 at 19:30; Special “Ladies Only” performance March 19 at 19:30 preceded by a Beauty Demonstration starting at 19:00.
Tickets can be purchased at: