AAP delivers strong performance in latest play

The world seems to be getting darker every day as our perception of ourselves and others becomes increasingly morbid and saturnine due in large part to our modern media.

This media circus that surrounds us teaches the doctrine of “complacency” and that we can never be perfect unless we “fit in” or “act normal.”

Photo courtesy of Celia Quillan and Amy Shackleford

When I was given the opportunity to watch six Wake Forest actresses perform Robert Harling’s iconic play Steel Magnolias, I was relieved and proud to watch a show that stood for something. A show that proves that all we have in this world are the people who stand right next to us when we fall down and when we rise again.

According to sophomore Jessi Wagner, who plays Shelby in the Anthony Aston Players (AAP) production of Steel Magnolias, directed by Dean D. Guerra, the show is moving. “This is such a beautiful and powerful show because it shows the strong relationships between six women who represent security, love, trust, communication, and devotion to one another no matter what happens in their lives.”

There is not one stand-out performance in this show, but rather, this is a show with six immensely talented actresses who give such inspired and heartfelt performances that the audience is immediately drawn into the trials and triumphs of these six Southern women.

The unbreakable bond that these women hold throughout the play truly sets this show apart from the usual theatrical fare, as the characters in this show are as alive and realistic as you and I.

Without giving away too much of the plot, I will say that this is a show that is meant to be experienced.

Every actress knows their role and identity on stage very well, and it is incredible to watch the struggle of love between a mother and her daughter, M’Lynn and Shelby, the comically dark and cryptic friendship between two widows, Clairee and Ousier (pronounced “Weezer”), and the teacher, Truvy, learning with and from her apprentice, Annelle. The acting in this show is well beyond the years of college students, and each of the actresses should be praised for creating a performance that proves that life gets better as long as you love as fiercely as possible.

Jessi Wagner as Shelby will make you fall in love, Natalie Brashear and Hayden Newman as Ousier and Clairee, respectively, will make you laugh even when you know you shouldn’t, Elizabeth Patterson as Annelle will warm your heart, Johanna Beach as M’Lynn will make you care and fight for those around you and Mara McCaffray as Truvy will make you proud to be free and passionate about life in general.With a gorgeous set, amazingly designed props and a brilliant sound design, this is not a show to miss. Be sure to catch this performance while you can.

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