BY CLIFF KASDEN
Crisp dialogue, sharp character interactions and crystal clear personality development create a rock-solid version of the dramatic comedy “Steel Magnolias.”
The six-member cast at Theatre by the Bay combines subtle reactions with overwhelming emotion in a charming and thought provoking story of grief, loyalty and especially hope.
On opening night, familiar community theatre veterans perform at Truvy’s Beauty Parlor in 1980s Louisiana. The set includes real hair dryers and salon chairs. Nili Resnick is excellent as fragile but fiery Shelby. Though rebellious, her unmistakable need for familial support is heartwarming. Her mother, M’Lynn, is played with control and maturity by Rosemary Kurtz. Her emotional explosion in the final scene is well handled by Clairee (Annette Daiell).
Daiell, a seasoned local veteran of more than 20 productions, displays a mischievous sense of humor with a combination of sensitivity and wit. Her best friend and nemesis Ouiser is played by Carol Berger Giorgio. Her charisma and larger-than-life reactions represent more than four decades of onstage experience.
Liz Zimmermann as brassy, blond Truvy anchors the production. She is both a wise, wonderful hair stylist and an informal town psychologist. Truvy is the center of everything important in her small southern town. The youngest of this group of creative characters is Samantha Kalinsky as Annelle. Her character is sometimes timid, sometimes reckless but always sincere.
Director Patrice Valenti manages her third production for this troupe. Her upbeat personality is evident in the performers’ optimism despite the storyline’s unexpected hardships. A genuine affection beyond the actors’ roles is evident as the play progresses.
Unfolding in fictional Chinquapin Parish, playwright Robert Harling’s production is based on real events. In fact, producers Barbara and Eli Koenig and Helene Schwartz appreciate the deeper message of “Steel Magnolias.” Brochures explaining Type 1 and 2 Diabetes are distributed as the audiences leaves the theater.
Well deserved applause to artistic director Cathy Chimenti, the stage crew (Lila and Steve Edelkind), set construction (Chris and Tyler Zimmermann), lighting and sound (Glenn Rivano, Jenifer Badamo, G. Scott Design Inc & Meagan Materazo). Bows to everyone behind the scenes too numerous to acknowledge by name.
For information on this and future productions call 718-428-6363, click on www.theatrebythebayny.com or “like” them on Facebook.
Theatre By The Bay is the community theater group of Bay Terrace Garden Jewish Center, located at 13-00 209th St.
As always, save me a seat on the aisle.