Set in the fictional northwestern Louisiana parish of Chinquapin, the play opens at Truvy's in-home beauty parlour where a group of women regularly gather. They discuss Shelby's upcoming wedding to her fiancé, Jackson. The plot covers events over the next three years relating to Shelby's Type 1 diabetes, and with how the women cope with their conflicts, while remaining friends: Shelby's decision to have a child despite jeopardizing her health, Clairee's friendship with the curmudgeon Ouiser; Annelle's transformation from a shy, anxious newcomer in town to a good-time girl then repentant revival-tent Christian; and Truvy's relationships with the men in her family. Although the main storyline involves Shelby, her mother M'Lynn, and Shelby's medical battles, the group's underlying friendship is prominent throughout the drama.
Steel Magnolias is presented by special arrangement with Dramatists Play Service, Inc. New York.