“The Dixie Swim Club” – Theater Works

This review aired on KBAQ January 23, 2012


Theater Works
Peoria, AZ

There’s a wonderful surprise for audiences at Theater Works in the funny and beautifully presented “The Dixie Swim Club.”  The Jesse Jones, Nicholas Hope, and Jaime Wooten comedy deals with the oft tackled subject of friendship but the comedy is loaded with genuine laughs, the story approaches the familiar subject differently than similar plays, and the staging shines with glowing professionalism.

In it, five longtime women friends meet each August at a North Carolina beach cottage to jab and jibe the others about what they’ve been doing, to garner sympathy for challenges they’ve faced, and to know that their friends are always there for them.  The women experience standard life tests related to men, families, careers, health, and lifestyles.  As they age – the play covers over 50 years – they face these trials and tribulations but the authors make it funny while creating poignant reflections that stir emotions.

You get to know these women, their quirks, and their weaknesses but unexpected things occur as the relationships change and grow.  You get attached to them.  As they age, the hilarity gives way to touching moments as even the most superficial of the group matures.  The play stresses the importance of having, maintaining, and growing friendships and relationships outside your immediate family. 

The cast, composed of two professionals and three community performers, couldn’t be better.  My companion kept checking her program to remind herself which performers were professional because the ensemble is so good and each is so right for their role.

Cathy Dresbach delivers her comedy impeccably and artfully as she plays accident prone and family challenged Vernadette.  The in-charge Debra Rich is the brusque and lawyerly Dinah, Susan Sindelar plays organizer Sheree with the right touch of control, and Janine Smith plays the flirtatious and sexually motivated Lexie with perfect irreverence.  Shari Watts plays former nun Jeri Neal with an explosion of opportunity as she discovers life after departing the church.

Director Bob Sorenson keeps the comedic timing immaculately as the play moves along with swift abandon but he makes sure that the later scenes play with honest sincerity as the bonds grow and the visits importance increase.

The production is presented in the intimate McMillin Theater at the Peoria Center for the Performing Arts and audiences are drawn into the action almost as if we are sitting in the beach house with these women as they pick, poke, but exude love and admiration for the others.

“The Dixie Swim Club” is a thoroughly entertaining but thoughtful show that continues through February 19.  For tickets, call the Theater Works box office at 623-815-7930 or order tickets online at www.theaterworks.org.

Grade: B