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Posts Tagged ‘Theater’

The Before and After Story of Steel Magnolias

If you have ever seen Steel Magnolias the movie, starring Sally Field, Julia Roberts and Shirley MaClaine, then it may surprise you to know that there is a before and an after to the story. Steel Magnolias started as an Off-Broadway play in 1987 and was then made into a movie in 1989. Since then, it has been revived on Broadway, starting in 2005, with a few changes.

Besides some uproarious dialogue and some heartfelt moments, Steel Magnolias is considered unique because of its one set production and its strong female cast–not to mention the fact that there are no male actors in the play. (All male characters are only spoken of in dialogue.) The play is similar to the movie and is a comedy drama (written by Robert Harling) set in a beauty parlor. The play follows the major characters Shelby, Truvy, Clairee, Ouiser, Annelle and M’Lynn.

In 2005, the play premiered at the Lyceum Theatre and garnered some very positive reviews. Since then, the production has been touring, not only in the United States, but even internationally, in Tokyo, and in Stockholm. Obviously, this is a human interest story that appeals to people of all ages, all cultures and all sensibilities. The play was written by playwright Harling as a means to cope with his own sister’s death. Susan Harling was a diabetic (as is the play’s central character) and did die from complications of the condition. Harling was advised to write about his feelings as a means to cope. He wrote it as a short story and then eventually turned the story into a play. It was Hartling’s brilliant idea to make the play just as funny as it was heartbreaking–just like real life.

To see the play today still remains a wonderful live theatre experience, all the more so when you take these identities off screen and put them on a small set. This Louisiana-based play will leave you breathless, as you observe firsthand the meaning of “steel magnolias.” Don’t you remember what that meaning is? Women who are as delicate as magnolias but as tough as steel.

See the Magic of Penn and Teller and a Few Magic Tricks Along the Way!

If you’ve ever seen Penn and Teller on television before, then you know it’s not just about the magic. It’s about the show, as Penn Jillette and Raymond Teller have a rather bizarre yet monstrously entertaining comedy act. Their chemistry is a classic, with Penn doing most of the talking and joking, and Teller acting the mime, hardly even speaking.

The duo specialize in unorthodox Las Vegas magic tricks, the likes of which include gory stunts, revealing the “secrets” of old magic tricks, and plenty of pranks. Classic tricks of the duo usually involve Teller subjected to life-threatening situations, including hanging upside down over a cushion of spikes (while confined in a straitjacket), being submerged in a tank of water, and being run over by a tractor-trailer. The “gore” is not real and of course, Teller is never in danger. However, the Python-esque shock value of what is happening is part of the duo’s shtick and it’s a killer of comedy.

What is the secret to Penn and Teller’s success? One of the reasons is the fact that they are a Vegas show, and everything in Vegas is memorable because it becomes part of the Las Vegas allure and identity. Penn and Teller have immortalized themselves as Vegas performers, and have a wonderfully receptive audience every time they take the stage. Their unique and anarchic comedy approach to magic has to be another factor, in an industry of hammy magicians who do traditional standup or no comedy at all.

Penn actually told Larry King that he believes they are successful because of the fact that they are not close friends. He told King that besides the magic, they don’t have much in common and rarely socialize outside of work. Penn and Teller most recently crashed the Daytime Emmy Awards and did yet another gore trick: the duo announced they would “stab” the correct name for Best Supporting Actor. Teller, with a blindfold, then stabbed a knife into a table of cards and then…whoops, into Penn’s hand! The best part was all those worried looks from the Emmy-nominated audience.

If you’re heading over to Las Vegas, Nevada don’t miss an opportunity to see a Penn and Teller show live and in person. It’s so much more enjoyable when you can hear the duo up close (or at least hear Penn) and see the fake blood splatter. Penn and Teller are the most popular magic act in America today and they have a loyal Vegas following to thank for it!

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