American Author Robert Harling found it difficult to cope with the loss of his sister in 1985.
Susan, who was a lifelong diabetic, had risked her life to have a son and later died from complications as a result.
So the inspiration for Steel Magnolias was born.
Harling penned a short story which gradually evolved into a full-length play exploring the complex relationships of a group of extraordinary women he had come to know as a boy in small-town Louisiana.
Its success led to a West End tour as well as a hit film in 1989.
On stage the action takes place entirely in Truvy’s Beauty Parlour.
The cast of six women bring fresh life to this timeless heartwarming tale of forging friendships which sees them through good times and bad.
Kacey Ainsworth (Annelle), Denise Welch (Truvy), Cherie Lunghi (Clairee), Sadie Pickering (Shelby), Isla Blair (M’Lynn) and Cheryl Campbell (Ouiser) combine well. A genuine rapport between the actresses transcends beautifully into their characters and the audience is quickly drawn in to their emotional journey.
You’ll be laughing and crying in pretty much equal measure but – despite the story’s tragic conclusion – will be leaving the theatre with a healthy dose of feelgood factor.
Steel Magnolias is nourishment for the soul - but best keep a tissue or two at close hand.
Review by Amanda Chalmers.
Steel Magnolias is on at Milton Keynes Theatre until Saturday, June 16.