When: Saturdays, 8 p.m., Sundays, 2:30 p.m. and Thursdays, 7 p.m. Continues through June 7 2018
“Laughter through tears is my favorite emotion,” quick-witted salon owner Truvy Jones tells her grieving friend in the 1989 film version of Steel Magnolias, Robert Harling’s bittersweet ode to strong Southern women and the ties that bind. An oft-quoted gem, Truvy’s telling words encapsulate much of the mood in Steel Magnolias, a genuinely funny tearjerker rooted in a short story Harling wrote in the wake of his sister’s 1985 death from complications related to juvenile diabetes. After adapting the story for the stage and seeing Steel Magnolias through a successful Off-Broadway run, Harling penned the screenplay for the film — brought to life brilliantly by an ensemble cast featuring Julia Roberts in an Oscar-nominated role alongside Dolly Parton (as Truvy the big-haired beautician), Sally Field, Shirley MacLaine, Olympia Dukakis and Daryl Hannah. Set in Harling’s small hometown of Natchitoches, La., (sister city of Nacogdoches, Tx.) within the gossip central of Truvy’s Beauty Spot, the play wraps a number of universal themes (friendship, social politics, religion, wedding-planning, mortality, grief and “natural” beauty, to name a few) into a sassy slice of Southern life distinguished by poignant moments and an array of enduring zingers — the most famous being “If you don’t have anything nice to say about anybody, come sit by me!” The Sheldon Vexler closes out its 19th season with a production directed by Mark McCarver.