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Brenda Parker

Steel Magnolias Resonates at the Little Theatre of Alexandria


Six women took the stage at Little Theatre of Alexandria and held the audience captive for two hours. Whereas the cast for the movie of the same name includes several male roles, the play achieves the same with just six women.

And these six women  – Brenda Parker (Clairee), Kelsey Yudice (Shelby), Patricia Spencer Smith (Ouiser), Susan Smythe (Annelle), Carla Crawford (Truvy), and Alana D. Sharp (M’Lynn) – are powerful forces on the stage. Each has her own presence, yet they come together as a force to be reckoned with. Dealing with life’s issues in the safest place (a hair salon!), they laugh, they cry, they bicker and banter.

As always, the set (a 1980’s hair salon) is magnificent, with every detail perfection, from the overhead hair dryers to the phone on the wall.


Carla Crawford (Truvy Jones)

As Truvy, Crawford hold court in her salon, giving Dolly Parton (who played that role in the film) a run for the money.  If Truvy has any troubles, we never hear about them, as she is responsible for keeping everything upbeat. She perfects the role of being sassy and southern as she tosses her mane of golden hair.

As Shelby, Yudice matures before our eyes, patiently dealing with five ‘mothers’ who want only the best for her. We follow her as she deals with life’s major ups and downs. This is Yudice’s first role at LTA and hopefully she will be back for more.


Susan Smythe (Annelle), Carla Crawford (Truvy)

Smythe’s Annelle comes into town with a secret and no friends. She blossoms under Truvy’s tutelage and blends into the camaraderie of the existing group of women very nicely. Smith, who recently moved to Virginia from Los Angeles,  is also appearing for the first time at LTA.

Spencer Smith adds the comic relief as Ouiser, the older woman who manages to complain constantly even though she has everything and nothing to complain about. Spencer Smith recently appeared as Mrs. Dubose in To Kill a Mockingbird.


Alana D. Sharp (M’Lynn) and Carla Crawford (Truvy)

As Shelby’s mother, M’Lynn, Sharp gives a very powerful performance at the end, as she yields to the grief that envelopes her after losing her daughter. The other ladies support her in that grief, but they manage to make her smile at the end. Add Sharp to the list of first-time LTA performers.

All in all, this is a satisfying production with performers we enjoy and hope to see again.

Steel Magnolias runs through October 1, 2016 at the Little Theatre of Alexandria, 600 Wolfe Street, Alexandria, VA 22314. For more information, visit www.littletheatre.com or call the Box Office at 703-683-0496.

Photos by Misty Angel
Top photo: Brenda Parker (Clairee), Kelsey Yudice (Shelby), Patricia Spencer Smith (Ouiser), Susan Smythe (Annelle), Carla Crawford (Truvy)

To Kill a Mockingbird at Little Theatre of Alexandria


Gregory Peck would be proud of Atticus, Scout, and the rest of the cast in Little Theatre of Alexandria’s recent production of To Kill a Mockingbird. This classic tale never gets old, and is very timely considering the recent passing of author Harper Lee. And the struggle between black and white, while tempered, still exists in modern society, and there are lessons to be learned in this timeless piece.

Producers Rachel Alberts, Bobbie Herbst and Robert Kraus have nailed it, not an easy feat with those who still fondly remember the black and white film. The two scenes – Finch’s street in Maycomb, Alabama to the courthouse where the trial is held – benefit from terrific staging.

Atticus’s daughter, Jean Louise Finch, nicknamed Scout, is played by two actresses who turn in winning performances. Olivia McMahon portrays the young Scout who lived through what transpired in 1935 when Atticus defended a black man who was tried for raping a white woman. The adult Jean Louise, played by Melissa Dunlap, takes on the role of narrator.


Richard Fiske (Atticus) and Olivia McMahon (Scout)

Finch, played by Richard Fiske, describes himself as a ‘recovering attorney,’ although one with much yet to prove. Whether at home  with Scout and Jem, or in the courtroom, Fiske’s Finch is believable, a loving father and a skilled lawyer.

Horace Gilmer (Cal Whitehorse), is a worthy adversary for Atticus. As Judge Taylor, Tony Gilbert rules over his courtroom, keeping everybody in check, especially Bob Ewell (Paul Donahoe), a loose cannon as a witness.


Brenda Parker (Calpurnia), Olivia McMahon (Scout), and Frank Riley III (Rev. Sykes)

The younger actors, McMahon, Jack Kearney (Jem Finch) and Nathaniel Burkhead (Dill), exhibit impressive onstage presence. Brenda Parker, who plays Calpurnia, the Finch’s housekeeper, is tasked with keeping the children in line and does it with love and humor.

The cast numbers more than 30 actors giving a touch of realism to the scenes where the courtroom’s seats would be filled with townspeople caught up in a case that both captivated and polarized a community.

Photos by Matt Liptak

Opening: Courtroom scene with cast.

To Kill a Mockingbird runs through May 14, 2016 at the Little Theatre of Alexandria, 600 Wolfe Street, Alexandria, VA 22314. For more information, visit www.littletheatre.com or call the Box Office at 703-683-0496.