Not long into author Robert Harling's ensemble dramedy Steel Magnolias, the Louisiana beautician Truvy asks local socialite Clairee Belcher about the recipe for a delicacy called "cuppa cuppa cuppa," the ingredients for which are a cup of flour, a cup of sugar, and a cup of fruit cocktail. Truvy says it sounds awfully rich, and Clairee replies that it is, "so I serve it over ice cream to cut the sweetness."
That line gets a laugh, and it should, and after attending the Clinton Area Showboat Theatre's new production of Steel Magnolias, it dawned on me that Clairee's dessert makes a fine analogy for the play itself. In effect, Harling's beloved, female-driven theatrical mainstay is a cup of wisecracking sitcom, a cup of unvarnished sentimentality, and a cup (perhaps a teaspoon or two less) of genuine feeling, all blended together and served over ice cream. Some may find this tale of six Southern friends and beauty-parlor regulars too sweet. But it'd be hard to deny the tastiness of the Showboat's presentation, and if the collective response during Thursday's curtain call was to be trusted, the standing, clapping, happily tearful crowd would've gratefully asked for seconds.