Steel Magnolias delivers classic story of friendship

Steel Magnolias is the latest offering from Laughing Horse Productions at the Don Russell Performing Arts Centre. 

Written by Robert Harling and directed by Adam Salathiel, the play is set in a Louisiana beauty salon where six remarkable women learn to draw upon their underlying strength and love to meet the challenges of life. 

Harling was inspired to write his first play after his sister Susan died of complications from diabetes and it was later adapted into the 1989 film starring Sally Field, Dolly Parton, Shirley MacLaine, Daryl Hannah, Olympia Dukakis and Julia Roberts. 

The play’s title suggests the main female characters can be both as delicate as the magnolia flower and as tough as steel. 

“It’s a classic story, both as a live theatre production and the popular Hollywood movie,” Salathiel said.  

“People might be expecting a reproduction of the film but that’s definitely not the case. 

“Movies have the luxury of different scenery and locations but, with live theatre, the entire play is set inside a hair salon.” 

The main challenge, according to Salathiel, is finding the right balance of comedy and emotion. 

“There are some crucial scenes, both happy and sad, that need to be portrayed by the actors and the audience members really need believe in their joy, grief and sorrow,” he said. 

First performing as a 10-year-old, Salathiel has been an actor, director, producer and lighting and sound operator with a diverse range of metropolitan and regional theatre companies. 

His current involvement is with Laughing Horse Productions where he has directed The Pirates of PenzanceKecks, Shirley Valentine, Cut It Out, BackstageOnce Upon A MattressOliver! and Seussical. 

Salathiel has also scored several awards and nominations over the years for best supporting actor, director, production, stage manager, costumes and set. 

Steel Magnolias appealed because I enjoyed reading the script and was inspired so audiences could see such a powerful production live on stage,” he said. 

“It’s a heart-warming play – while it’s a comedy that will make you laugh, it also makes you stop and think and also shed a tear.” 

Steel Magnolias plays at 7.30pm March 12, 13, 19 and 20 with 2pm matinees March 13 and 20. Tickets are $26, $18 concession – book at or on 9498 9414. 

The Don Russell Performing Arts Centre is at Lot 13 Murdoch Road, Thornlie. 


It is 1987, and the fabled West Hollywood club the Bourbon Room is the seedy, sordid, vibrant heart of the Sunset Strip. The music venue has seen better days, but is run by chilled-out former rock impresario Dennis Dupree, and tended to by Dennis’s mischievous assistant Lonny, it is the essence of rock and roll. When bright-eyed young hopeful Sherrie Christian, a small-town girl who wants to make it as an actress, arrives in town, she bumps into Drew, a Bourbon Room busboy with dreams of rock and roll stardom. Love-struck Drew convinces Dennis to hire Sherrie, and the stage seems set for their romance. But when the Mayor of West Hollywood, persuaded by a couple of scheming German real estate developers, announces his intention to demolish the Bourbon Room and the entire gritty Sunset Strip, the stakes are raised. Dennis convinces rock god Stacee Jaxx, lead singer of megaband Arsenal, to play the band’s last show at the Bourbon Room, hopeful that the money raised will stop the building from being demolished. But Stacee, a man of massive charisma and massive ego, leaves destruction in his wake, taking advantage of with Sherrie and getting knocked out by his own band before the concert is over. In the midst of violent anti-demolition protests, Sherrie flees to a nearby strip club and Drew falls into the clutches of a boy band. Who can save the Bourbon Room, the young lovers, and the feuding Germans? Only Lonny, the “dramatic conjurer”, knows for sure. Rock of Ages is a big, brash, energetic tribute to classic rock, to over-the-top ballads and fierce guitar, to the gritty glamour and rough energy of the Sunset Strip. This jukebox musical features ‘80s hits such as “We Built this City”, “I Wanna Rock”, and “Don’t Stop Believin’”.

The original Broadway production ran for 2,328 performances and it tied as the 29th-longest running show in Broadway history. Since debuting on the Great White Way in 2009, it has spawned replica productions worldwide.

The show will run from 21stNovember to 7th December.

For on-line bookings, go to

Phone bookings to 0499 954 016 (Mon, Wed & Fri 9am to 12 noon)

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All enquiries to

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