Front Row Center
By Michael Warren
The Dixie Swim Club
By Jessie Jones, Nicholas Hope, Jamie Wooten
Directed by Barbara Clippinger
These authors worked together on TV’s “Golden Girls” and there is a sitcom quality about the cute one-liners in this play about female friendship. The five characters came together as members of the college swim team, and ever since they’ve met every year in a beach cottage in North Carolina. The play spans 55 years, and we watch them grow older each summer as they share experiences and live and love and drink martinis.
“Sheree” is the team leader, a health nut who is super organized and addicted to early morning jogging. There is a running joke about her disgusting hors d’oeuvres made out of seaweed and bat poop (or something) – the other girls spit them out when she’s not looking. “Lexie” is the beautiful one, self-involved and given to plastic surgery and multiple marriages. Meanwhile “Dinah” is a lawyer and archetypical career woman, steering clear of marriage and children. “Vernadette” is a disaster area, with an abusive husband and children either in and out of jail or in and out of various cults. As someone says in the play, her life is one long country western song. And finally there’s “Jeri Neal” who is an ex-nun whose first appearance displays her very pregnant belly. She’s certainly left the convent!
It’s a charming little play if you leave your critical faculties at home, and just enjoy the entertaining lines and the teary ending. The actors do well in their contrasting parts, and play off each other with pace and humor. Candace Luciano is excellent as southern belle Lexie, and Georgette Richmond lives her part as successful lawyer and martini-drinker “Dinah.” Sharon Lowry comes across realistically as the sweet and bubbly Jeri Neal – this was Sharon’s first appearance at LLT, and I look forward to seeing her on stage again. Patsi Krakoff looks the part as clean-living “Sheree,” while Lynn Phelan steals the show as the hapless (but undefeated) “Vernadette.” She gets a clap from an appreciative audience with her defense of southern biscuits, which they’ll have to pry from her “cold dead hands.” Finally Graham Miller has a fun cameo role between scenes as the local real estate agent, complete with bicycle.
The set was perfect for the play – you could almost smell the sea breezes. I congratulate Paulette Coburn and Sherolyn Gregory for excellent set design and decoration. Barbara Clippinger chose a light-hearted and poignant play to end the season, and the cast rewarded us with a delightful performance. Win McIntosh was Stage Manager, Sandy Jakubek Assistant Stage Manager – it took a lot of teamwork to make this play, with all the scene changes, run smoothly without a hitch.
So ends an eventful and successful Season 50 – now we can look forward to Season 51!