Tears among the hairspray as CODA takes on Steel Magnolias

Anyone who is anyone in Chiquapin, Louisiana – from the local curmudgeon to the prettiest girl in town – has a standing appointment at Truvy Jones’s beauty salon.

Barbershop sextet: the CODA cast get in the mood for Steel Magnolias

It’s the only place to be for the gossip.

But when the joy and excitement of a wedding turn to concern about the health of one of their number, the ladies must dig deep to find strength to meet life’s hurdles…

CODA, the Croydon Operatic and Dramatic Association, are hard at work learning their lines and rehearsing for their latest production, Robert Harling’s bittersweet comedy drama Steel Magnolias, being staged at the CryerArts Centre in Carshalton next month.

By turns heartwarming, hilarious and heart-breaking, Steel Magnolias will leave audiences with a smile on their face and a tear in their eye.

The production is directed by David Sanders, and stars Zahra Jennings-Grant as Truvy, Bee Williams as Annelle, Sarah H Gordon as Clairee, Rebecca Flood as Shelby, Sarah Block as M’Lynn and Tonia Porter as Ouiser.

“This is a beautiful and simple piece of theatre,” Sanders says.

“The way the characters interact with their witticisms, put-downs and good-natured barbs is a joy to behold. The stories are very common to all of us at some time in our lives.”

And Michael Hall, the chairman of CODA, says, “The script is bursting with vivid characters who have such a wonderful turn of phrase, but the piece is so moving too.

“I know audiences will love the play.”

CODA was founded in 1943, and is Croydon’s leading community theatre company, performing both musicals and plays to a high standard.

Steel Magnolias comes after CODA’s covid-delayed production of Little Women.

Colour and set: the CODA cast of Steel Magnolias gathered at Vintage 62 Hair Salon in Selsdon. From left: Bee Williams as Annelle, Zahra Jennings-Grant as Truvy, Rebecca Flood as Shelby, Tonia Porter as Ouiser, Sarah H Gordon as Clairee and Sarah Block as M’Lynn. Photo by Sasha Cherry

In the years prior to the pandemic, CODA have performed highly acclaimed productions of Shakespeare in Wandle Park, musicals at the Stanley Halls and Fairfield Halls, and family favourites at the CryerArts Centre in Carshalton.

Steel Magnolias runs from Wednesday April 27 to Saturday April 30 at the CryerArts Centre, High Street, Carshalton, with evening performances at 7.45pm, and a matinee on Saturday April 30 at 2.30pm.

Tickets are £14 full price and £13 concessions (plus booking fee), and can be booked online at www.cryerarts.co.uk, or by telephone on 020 8669 2444.

CODA’s “Meet and Greet” for the summer show planned for Wandle Park (Pride and Prejudice, in case you were wondering) is being held on April 5 from 7.30pm at St Peter’s Church House, South Croydon. Anyone wanting to get in touch can contact secretary@codashows.co.uk.

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About insidecroydon

News, views and analysis about the people of Croydon, their lives and political times in the diverse and most-populated borough in London. Based in Croydon and edited by Steven Downes. To contact us, please email inside.croydon@btinternet.com
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