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New to town, Annelle (Lovelle Liquigan, center) sheds some light on her past with the ladies of Truvy’s salon in East West Players’ “Steel Magnolias” From left: Karen Huie, Ruth Coughlin, Hiwa Bourne, Dian Kobayashi, Liquigan, Patti Yasutake. (Photo by Michael Lamont)

New to town, Annelle (Lovelle Liquigan, center) sheds some light on her past with the ladies of Truvy’s salon in East West Players’ “Steel Magnolias” From left: Karen Huie, Ruth Coughlin, Hiwa Bourne, Dian Kobayashi, Liquigan, Patti Yasutake. (Photo by Michael Lamont)

By JUNE KURISU, Special to The Rafu

Down in Little Tokyo a new beauty salon has opened.

The exterior is plain but the interior of Truvy’s Beauty Salon is scenic designer Christopher Scott Murillo’s masterpiece: The colors and furniture placement are a true beauty to behold. It would be a real pleasure to have an appointment every week just to sit in the salon, absorb the ambiance, and be made as beautiful as the six cast members are.

But, alas, we are here admiring the scenery and the players of a popular play and film script by Robert Harling called “Steel Magnolias.” This presentation is by the East West Players, but only until Oct. 6.

“He makes a mean cherry coke!” Annelle (Lovelle Liquigan, right) shares her excitement about her new boyfriend with Truvy (Hiwa Bourne). (Photo by Michael Lamont)

“He makes a mean cherry coke!” Annelle (Lovelle Liquigan, right) shares her excitement about her new boyfriend with Truvy (Hiwa Bourne). (Photo by Michael Lamont)

How the years do fly! It’s hard to believe that all of 48 years have flown by since East West Players began first in a small theater before moving to the now much larger David Henry Hwang Theatre in the Union Center for the Arts on Judge John Aiso Street after a good bit of renovation was done to make the place so welcoming.

For the 48th anniversary season, Tim Dang, producing artistic director, and East West Players have compiled such a “really must see” program for the 2013-14 season titled “Making Light” that it would be a shame to miss even one performance. “The Nisei Widows Club: How Tomi Got Her Groove Back” is followed by “A Nice Indian Boy” then “Beijing Spring,” ending June 15.

Steel denotes strength while the large, white, fragrant blossoms of the magnolias could denote the femininity of the woman in Truvy’s salon. Costume design by Sara Ryung Clement displayed proper attire for each role, but each change by the mother can make us envious of her wardrobe.

Not only did each player have to learn her part in the play but also each had to learn how to speak “Southern,” which could have been harder to learn than any speech in the script. The verbal action takes place in the salon, which could be sleep-producing for the male audience but is not because they will be wondering what is going to happen next. And the happenings are big but plausible. Ladies, bring your own Kleenex; it’s not furnished.

Women who frequent beauty salons, and that’s pretty nearly all of us, can recognize good work and see it in the professional “roll-ups” and “comb-outs.” Were Hiwa Bourne and Lovelle Liquigan hired for their roles because they were previously hair stylists from the South and then decided to become actresses? No, that would be too far-fetched.  Just let me say that all of the women performed superbly in their roles.

Four of the six actresses are members of the Actors Equity Association; you wouldn’t be able to pick out who are not members yet. Naturally a good bit of the credit for the totality of the play must go to the director, Laurie Woolery.

Gentlemen, have a seat next to your significant other, friend or relative, at a performance of “Steel Magnolias” to see how a group of women relate to each other, especially if you haven’t been in such a group before.

The cast of this lauded play in alphabetical order, not to put any special emphasis on their parts, are Hiwa Bourne, Ruth Coughlin, Karen Huie, Dian Kobayashi, Lovelle Liquigan, and Patti Yasutake. Behind the stage and certainly adding to the success of the scene and actresses are lighting design by Lonnie Rafael Alcaraz and sound design by Corinne Carrillo. Prop master is Yuki Izumihara and stage manager is Daniel Reano-Koven.

The cast and creative team have so many professional credits behind their names that the word “amateur” is definitely not in their biographies any more.

This is one play that I would love to see again, and for those who feel the same, EWP has made it possible with “come back with a friend” for half price. Two tickets for the price of one!

Five fans out of four should be awarded for another great show at the theater.

East West Players is at the David Henry Hwang Theatre, 120 Judge John Aiso St. where San Pedro Street becomes Judge Aiso Street between Temple and First in Little Tokyo. Parking entrance is the second driveway past the theater. The phone number is (213) 625-7000 and the website is http://eastwestplayers.org. Performances are Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. through Oct. 6.

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