Steel Magnolias Reviews

Reviews are in for a new touring production of Robert Harling’s much-loved comedy drama Steel Magnolias.

Steel Magnolias stars Harriet Thorpe (Absolutely Fabulous, Wicked), Laura Main (One’s Call the Midwife), Diana Vickers (The X Factor),  Lucy Speed (EastEnders), Caroline Harker (A Touch of Frost) and Elizabeth Ayodele (Playboy of the West Indies, Small Island).

Steel Magnolias is an hilarious and heart-warming play about the strength of female friendship, set in a small town beauty salon in the American South. The play was turned into a smash-hit 1989 film starring Dolly Parton, Sally Field, Shirley MacLaine and Julia Roberts.

Directed by Anthony Banks (Girl on the Train), the play is currently touring the UK, including Richmond, Sheffield, Guildford, Bath, Salford, Brighton, Southend, Birmingham, High Wycombe, Leicester, Nottingham, Cardiff, Cheltenham, Malvern, Exeter, Milton Keynes, Liverpool, Glasgow, Dublin, Hull, Swindon, Dartford, Leeds and Northampton.

See reviews from The Times, The Stage and more. Further reviews to follow.

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Steel Magnolias reviews

The Times
★★★

"Grief, giant perms and southern charm"

"It’s a play of paradoxes in many ways (not that any character would put up with such a pretentious nonsense of a word), a comedy about death, where physical concealment meets psychological revelation, and cosy language conceals uncompromising attitudes."

"In Anthony Banks’s assured production the actors quickly assert themselves as equals to a 1989 celluloid cast that included Sally Field, Shirley MacLaine, Olympia Dukakis, Daryl Hannah and, of course, Julia Roberts, then relatively unknown."

"If you like your theatre as cosy as cocoa with a shot of bourbon, this is for you. But if you want to be stirred and provoked, then ignore your split ends and go elsewhere."

Rachel Halliburton, The Times
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The Stage
★★★

"Brings new depths to a modern classic"

"Thoughtful reassessment of a modern classic, clarified by a pitch-perfect ensemble"

"The film is a tough act to follow; yet while Anthony Banks’ affectionate revival embraces it, it’s also not afraid to redefine characters and reassess the relationships within Harling’s script."

"A genuine warmth is generated by the ensemble, as each actor navigates Harling’s rich, heavily textured, immensely quotable script. Accents may slip occasionally, especially in the second act, but this barely detracts from the nuance that they bring to their portrayals."

"Thorpe probably makes the biggest departure, softening the character of Ouiser without losing her abrasive edge. It’s a deeply satisfying choice that uncovers a greater connection to the other women, in particular Ayodele’s sweet-natured Annelle."

"The staging is occasionally hampered by Laura Hopkins’ flimsy, over-complicated set design. Otherwise, this production and its accomplished cast bring new depths to a modern classic."

Paul Vale, The Stage
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📷 Main photo: Steel Magnolias - UK tour. Photo by Pamela Raith

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