If you've ever spent the day sitting under a hair dryer, waiting for the color to take, you know beauty parlors can be a hotbed of gossip. Enter the dainty, tough-as-nails ladies of Chinquapin Parish, La., in Robert Harling's play Steel Magnolias. The characters are few but feisty. There's the salon owner and neglected wife, a god fanatic, a wealthy smart ass, a socialite, and a middle-aged mom and her soon-to-be-married daughter. The tragedy is brought about by the daughter Shelby's desire to have a baby--something her doctors have advised her against due to complications from diabetes. The six women laugh, cry and let it be known that they can handle just about anything life throws at them with grace and humor. As Truvy says in the movie version, "Laughter through tears is my favorite emotion."
Harling originally wrote the play to deal with his sister's death due to diabetes and has mastered the laughter-through-tears thing. Knock 'Em Dead Dinner Theater presents its own version of the tearjerker. Ouiser Boudreaux (the smartass) claims that she does "not see plays, because I can nap at home for free." Don't let that stop you. Maybe she was having a bad hair day.