The essence of Robert Harling’s 1987 play comes through in this production despite some underdeveloped supporting characters and flaws in delivery, like wildly uneven dialects and muddy diction. Set entirely in a true-to-life salon, Steel Magnolias celebrates the deep bonds shared by six small-town women who sustain each other through joy and sorrow. Allison M. Weiss’s vivacious, headstrong Shelby is the group’s vortex, drawing the ladies’ affection and concern and her mother’s protests when Shelby risks her life to have a child. Stephanie Wootten-Austin’s performance as the mother is a little forced on the comedic end but hits the required notes of exasperation and grief. Debbie DiVerde’s Truvy and Darrelyn Marx’s Clairee comfort her with believable compassion and abundant well-timed quips. Through 11/13: Thu 7:30 PM, Fri 8 PM, Sat 3 and 7 PM, Sun 3 PM. Sun 10/16, 2 PM only. Metropolis Performing Arts Centre, 111 Campbell, Arlington Heights, 847-577-2121. $27-$37; $50 Sun 10/16 (includes admittance to Metropolis’s “Sunday Soiree” fund-raiser, 5-9 PM, with shopping and refreshments–this performance is for women only).