‘Steel Magnolias’ Captures What it Means to Be a Woman

This past weekend was the opening of "Steel Magnolias," put on by the College's theater department at the Adler Theater in the Berrie Center.

Written by American writer, producer and film director Robert Harling, the comedy-drama is set in a beauty parlor in northwest Louisiana. Here, a group of six women gather between the two acts and discuss daily happenings. The life of main character Shelby, a diabetic young woman who undergoes a marriage and pregnancy, becomes a hot topic throughout the four different scenes.

As defined in the production's Playbill-like handout, "steel" refers to the "determination, toughness, or great strength of a character." "Magnolia" refers to "any one of a group of evergreen delicious trees or shrubs that typically have large simple leaves and showy yellow, white, pink or green flowers." Under the definition of "steel magnolia" is the name of the playwright's sister, Margaret Jones Harling.

The play was undoubtedly inspired by Harling's sister. It was originally performed in 1987 at the Lucille Lortel Theatre on Christopher Street in Lower Manhattan. 

The six female characters were casted with Leah Voysey as M'Lynn, Amanda Ianuzzi as Shelby, Sam Simone as Truvy, Kelly Blake as Annelle, Kaitlyn Kozinski as Clairee and Rachel Valovcin as Ouiser.

"I think 'Steel Magnolias' truly captures what it means to be a woman," Ianuzzi said. "All the women in this play are strong and delicate; they are tough yet they break at times. They have all formed an incredible family bond to each other and have the ability to lean on each other in times of hardship. This show is about friendship, love, laughter and strength."

Professor of Theater for the School of Contemporary Arts, Mary Ellen Allison, directed the production.

The students primarily responsible for and immensely involved with the "behind the scenes" aspects of the play were Maiko Chii for scenic design, Michael Terebush for costume design, Mel Calvo for lighting design and Tom King for sound design. Additionally, Nick Walsh served as radio DJ and Karley Berrios served as stage manager, while Megan Garrett and Lydia Oquendo served as assistant stage managers. 

"It's a great show that's ahead of its time with feminism. It's blunt. This production does a particularly good job of bringing out strength and unity," junior Ryan McGilloway said.

Upcoming performances include tonight and Friday the 25th, at 8 p.m. There is also a matinee showing on Saturday the 26th at 2 p.m. Tickets are $5 for Ramapo students and $15 for non-Ramapo students. For more information, please call the Berrie Center Box Office at 201-684-7844.