Theatre Mirror Reviews - "Dixie Swim Club"

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"What Happened in Boston, Willie"


entire contents copyright 2010 by Tony Annicone

"The Dixie Swim Club"

Reviewed by Tony Annicone

The Granite Theatre' current show is "The Dixie Swim Club", a comedy by Jessie Jones, Nicholas Hope and Jamie Wooten. This touching comedy centers around five Southern women who became friends on their college swim team. The group sets aside a long weekend every August to recharge their relationships. Free from husbands, kids and jobs, they meet at the same beach cottage on North Carolina's Outer Banks to catch up, laugh and meddle in each other's lives. The play focuses on four of those weekends, spans a period of thirty-three years and begins 22 years after they graduate from college. As their lives unfold and the years pass, these women increasingly rely on one another, through advice and raucous repartee, to get through the challenges that life flings at them including men, sex, marriage, parenting, divorce and aging. And when fate throws a wrench into one of their lives in the second act, these friends, proving the enduring power of "teamwork'', rally around their own with the strength and love that takes this comedy in a poignant and surprising direction which makes it a study in friendship and how it grows and changes through the years. These five women have personalities that probably never would have developed into friendships if not for their common bond as teammates in college and the show illustrates the value of friendships. The fact that in the midst of experiencing life's challenges women just want someone to listen to them. David Jepson directs the show excellently, mixing the comic and touching moments together splendidly, giving each one of his actresses their moment to shine in their roles. The show is very comedic with the woman bickering and not getting along with each other until a final poignant moment that takes your breath away, earning the cast a standing ovation at the end of the night.

David blocks his show beautifully and also built the gorgeous set for the show. It is a unit set of a summer cottage on the Outer Banks. It contains a doorway which shows the beach outside. Stage manager Barbara Collins handles all the props and scene changes while Tai Scavetta runs all the sound and lighting for the show. All five women do a terrific job in the show. Sheree, the team captain, desperately tries to maintain her organized and 'perfect' life, and continues to be the group leader. Carol Drewes plays this control freak whose healthy hors d'oeuvres aren't liked by the other girls. A funny scene occurs when each of them spit them out into a plant at the cottage. One of Carol's funny moment's when she does a pelvic thrust when she says Richie Walker put the O in speedo. The character feels sad about becoming a grandmother and has a touching scene at the end of the show with a martini shaker in her hand. Patricia Spencer-Smith plays Dinah, the wise-cracking overachiever who is a career dynamo, but her victories in the courtroom are a stark contrast to the frustrations of her personal life. Dinah loves to drink a lot at these meetings, has an eye for detail and finally finds love with Randall, one of Lexie's ex-husbands. has many funny moments and a tear jerking one in the first scene of the second act when she comforts one of the other ladies on their impending cancer surgery. Patricia also has a dramatic moment in this same scene when she mentions her string of pearls breaking apart in the courtroom. Beth Jepson plays Lexie, who is pampered,outspoken and determined to hold onto her looks and youth as long as possible. She enjoys being married over and over and over again. Beth is the scene stealing character who is reminiscent of Blanche from "Golden Girls" TV show and has many funny one liners in the show. Lexie is a vain trollop whose personal life is a mess with her many divorces and she vacillates from shrew to nice and back again but in the last scene reveals a heart of gold when she takes one of the women in to be her roommate. This scene leaves you with a lump in your throat and a tear in your eye.

The self-deprecating and acerbic Vernadette, acutely aware of the dark cloud that hovers over her life, has decided to just give in and embrace the chaos. She is excellently played by Lee Rush. Her character is the happiest of the bunch, an easy going woman with a deadbeat husband, delinquent children and a truck bumper held on with duct tape. Vernadette always has to pee when she first arrives at the cottage and always has some kind of injury, entering with crutches and wearing a neck brace. Lee is a hilarious in the scene when she enters in a clown outfit because her husband hid all her clothes from her and she stops the show with her speech about Southern woman making biscuits which wins her thunderous applause from the audience. The final member of the club is sweet, eager-to-please, Jeri Neal played by Carrie Heise who experiences a late entry into motherhood that takes them all by surprise. Jeri is a former nun who is pregnant, courtesy of artificial insemination, after catching baby fever while holding one for a homeless woman at a shelter. She is a hoot at the end of the first scene when she starts to go into labor, in the second scene wears a leopard dress and in the second act talks to her husband on the phone saying she wants to be the naughty weather girl to his being the weatherman. Jeri marries Bryce, a younger man and always looks at things optimistically. She makes her son jump on the trampoline until he gets tired because he is hyperactive is one funny story she tells the girls. So for a look at a brand new comedy and the RI premeire, be sure to catch "Dixie Swim Club".

"The Dixie Swim Club" (17 September - 10 October)
GRANITE THEATRE
@ 1 Granite Street, WESTERLY MA
1 (401)596-2341

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