RTC's 'Steel Magnolias'A Fort Tilden Hit
Audience reaction was unanimous, as all three performances were met with standing ovations. The story of six southern women of varying ages and backgrounds who share a deep affection for one another is beautifully played by an ensemble cast of exquisite actresses. These ladies are all "down-home girls" whose homes, in reality, are not in Louisiana at all, but right here in Rockaway (with the exception of Lori Ann Santopetro, who actually hails from as far north as Howard Beach).
Lori is hilarious as Clairee Belcher, town matriarch and the wealthy widow of the former mayor. Joining Santopetro is Tristan Kerry O'Connor in the role of Truvy Jones, bubbly beautician, espouser of "hairspun" wisdom and proprietor of the salon in which the play's action is centered. Young Faye Peithman steps into the role of Truvy's assistant, Annelle, the young lady who is new in town and who "may or may not be married to a dangerous criminal." Susan Corning's performance as M'Lynn Eatenton, mother of the bride, leaves hardly a dry eye in the house. M'Lynn's daughter, Shelby, the prettiest girl in town, is very poignantly portrayed by the very beautiful Courtney Calciano. Completing this little group is the cantankerous old Ouiser Boudreaux. This role is shared by two actresses of equally impressive merit. For the Sunday matinee, Susan Hartenstein, a well known figure in Rockaway both on and off stage, brought her masterful experience as an actress to the role and, as always, was the source of great levity in the production. Special kudos, however, should be awarded to the other Ouiser, Eileen Farrell, who brings with her no prior stage experience whatsoever, and who delighted Friday and Saturday evening audiences with her equally comical and very spunky portrayal. Both Ouisers are so terrific that it is recommended that you see the play twice so you can catch each of them. Together on stage, these Steel Magnolias are a theatrical tour de force that should not be missed.
Only the incredible set approaches a level of excellence equal to that of the acting. Truvy's beauty salon is wonderfully authentic, right down to the working sink in which the ladies' heads are washed. The "blush and bashful" pink walls and black and white tiled floor transport the entire audience to the carport of the Jones' home, which Truvy's husband has converted to the place of business in which she masterfully works her magic. The bulk of the credit for the creation of this fabulous set goes to Tony Homsey and Cliff Hesse, who were responsible for its construction and artistic design.
The highest praise of all for this phenomenal production goes to the wonderfully accomplished directing team of Peggy Page and Michael Wotypka. A spokesperson for the RTC thanks these two very talented directors for the hard work and theatrical foresight that has made Steel Magnolias the third fabulous production of the Rockaway Theatre Company's most successful season ever. Steel Magnolias is truly a "must-see" for everyone. Call 718-850-2450 for reservations today and ladies... Do bring your men!