Shelby, played by Laura McFarlane, explains her decision to have a baby to her mother M’Lynn, played by Marli Bartness, in Red Curtain’s production of “Steel Magnolias,” running through Sept. 22 in Marysville. (Layton Gaskins)

Shelby, played by Laura McFarlane, explains her decision to have a baby to her mother M’Lynn, played by Marli Bartness, in Red Curtain’s production of “Steel Magnolias,” running through Sept. 22 in Marysville. (Layton Gaskins)

Red Curtain’s ‘Steel Magnolias’ shines with talented all-female cast

The Marysville theater’s production will make you forget the popular 1989 movie of the same name.

MARYSVILLE — Magnolias, each one.

An outstanding cast is part of a concerted effort by the Red Curtain Foundation for the Arts — now in its 10th season — to elevate the quality of community theater in Snohomish County.

The six female players in Red Curtain’s current production of “Steel Magnolias” will have you tossing your 30-year-old memories of the popular 1989 movie of the same name.

My friend Connie Compton Mennie and I dragged our husbands out for opening night on Sept. 6. The house was full. Eager for a good show, the audience was rewarded with a professional-level performance, which brought back what was Red Curtain’s premiere production.

Set in a Louisiana parish during the 1980s, the production does a great job with period hairstyles, costumes and pop references. Rather than come off as a dated piece of theater, however, the interplay among the women explores relationships and issues relevant today, including friendship — and their funny tiffs, aging, mother-daughter issues, compassion and grief.

In keeping with the era, the production played 1980s hits during scene changes and even rick-rolled the audience during one change, playing Rick Astley’s “Never Gonna Give You Up.” The audience was game and sang along.

Robert Harling’s “Steel Magnolias” did well Off-Broadway before he wrote the screenplay. The movie starred Dolly Parton as Truvy, the hair salon owner; Daryl Hannah as her employee Annelle; Sally Field as the mother, M’Lynn; Julia Roberts as the daughter, Shelby; Shirley MacLaine as the eccentric Ouiser; and Olympia Dukakis as the dignified Clairee.

In the Red Curtain show, the cast is Jenny Price as Truvy, Lydia O’Day as Annelle, Marli Bartness as M’Lynn, Laura McFarlane as Shelby, Dawn Cornell as Ouiser and Mar Kay Voss as Clairee.

“They were so good, I never even thought about the movie,” my friend Connie said. “The actors brought their own take on the characters.”

Under the fine direction of Diane Johnston, all six women have excellent comedic timing and delivery, and all are believable in their roles. Some have extensive stage education and experience; others have developed their chops on the Red Curtain stage.

A favorite for me was Cornell as Ouiser. Maybe I relate to the character, her curmudgeonly remarks and her hats. I suspect most women can identify with at least one of the gals in the play.

“Steel Magnolias” is a great comedy. If you don’t know the story, however, here’s a warning: Be sure to bring a hankie. Most people need one. The story revolves around Shelby who has some medical problems.

All of the action takes place in Truvy’s in-home beauty parlor during four different seasons. Scott B Randall has done another amazing job with his set and lighting design. All the crew deserve equal kudos.

Shear Perfection Salon in Everett deserves a mention as well. Price and O’Day received some special instruction from the women at the salon, which also donated equipment for the project.

The show continues through Sept. 22. Enjoy these magnolias.

If you go

“Steel Magnolias” will be performed at 8 p.m. Sept. 13, 14, 20 and 21, and 2 p.m. Sept. 15 and 22 at the Red Curtain Arts Center, 9315 State Ave., Suite J, which is located in the Goodwill shopping center behind the Everett Community College cosmetology school.

Tickets are $20 or $17 for seniors, students and military personnel. Call 360-322-7402 or go to for more information.

10th season

Next up in Red Curtain’s 2019-2020 season: “Dark of the Moon,” Oct. 18 though Nov. 3; “The Best Christmas Pageant Ever: The Musical,” Nov. 29 through Dec. 15 (Auditions are scheduled for the evenings of Sept. 24 and 25); “A Funny Thing Happened,” Jan. 17 through Feb. 2; “The Importance of Being Earnest,” Feb. 28 through March 15; “The Rememberer,” April 10-26; and “Once Upon A Mattress,” May 22 through June 7.

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