Review: Steel Magnolias

If you live in Northwest Illinois and you haven’t been to a show at the Raue Center in Crystal Lake, you are missing out. This theater has produced shows that are as entertaining as anything you will see downtown Chicago. Steel Magnolias is a 1989 comedy-drama film by Herbert Ross that stars Sally Field, Shirley MacLaine, Olympia Dukakis, Dolly Parton, Daryl Hannah and Julia Roberts. The Raue Center stage adaptation is directed by Kimberly Berg Sanders. This is Sanders big return to the Raue after acting and co-directing Mothers, Daughters; Daughters, Mothers in the Raue’s inaugural season.

The show features Annelle Dupuy, played by Amanda Flahive who is a recent beauty school graduate, who is hired by Truvy Jones, played by Kate Hein, to work in her beauty salon. M’Lynn Eatenton, played by Kellee Stall and her daughter, Shelby Eatenton, played by Hannah Dawe arrive at Truvy’s Salon to prepare for Sheby’s wedding. Also at the salon are Ouiser Boudreaux, a grouchy widow played by Regina Belt Daniels and Clairee Belcher, played by Shannon Mayhall.

The story revolves around Shelby who is diabetic and not supposed to have children. Not long after her marriage, she becomes pregnant, which causes many medical problems. The medical problems eventually lead to a kidney transplant and eventually her death.

Dawe’s performance in the show was amazingly authentic. I have been married to a diabetic with medical problems for 20 years and Dawe played the part flawlessly. Her smile and joyfulness made it easy to fall in love with her character.

Flahive played a character that evolved from being scared and insecure into one that became faithful and full of insight. This role really helped show Flahive’s amazing range as an actress.

Stall made the audience laugh and cry. Her role was an emotional rollercoaster and she played it to perfection. She helped even the balance of humor and tragedy.

Daniels made the audience understand that under the grouchy exterior, was a woman who was very caring, sympathetic and understanding. That said, Daniels played the part wonderfully.

I am still laughing at Mayhill. Her role as Clairee was an absolute riot. The timing of her humor was impeccable. During the ups and downs of the story, one thing you could count on was Mayhill making you laugh!

Hein played the owner of the salon. Her role was so real. She was so raw and honest as the ladies cycled through the rollercoaster of emotions. While she was constantly making hair do the 80’s thing, Hein was making the audience laugh and cry with her brilliant performance of Truvy.

Props also go out to Richard Kuranda who is the founding artistic director of the show and T. Paul Lowery who is the producer and props designer.

This show can be seen on April 27th (8:00), May 3rd, (8:00) May 4th (8:00), May 10th (8:00) , May 11th (3:00) and May 11th (8:00). Tickets are available at or by calling the box office at 815.356.9212.

This is definitely one of the best plays I have seen ever. The acting is spectacular as is everything that surrounds the show at the Raue. If you have not had a chance to take in a show, this is the one you will want to see.

Review written by William Geheren – Host of 2 Dudes and a Dog radio show on on Monday, Wednesday and Friday evening from 8:00-8:30


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