ORANGE — How long has it been since you had a good belly laugh? The Orange Community Players’ production of “The Dixie Swim Club” is a chick flick for the stage. While you are enjoying the humor and laughs, you are observing how enduring friendships are among the most important aspects of human existence.
This play is a gold mine of witty comebacks and outrageous situations. There is great writing by playwrights Jones, Hope, and Wooten. Directed by Diana Hill, this production is a “don’t miss it” evening out. The cast does wonders with the play and they sidestep stereotype by making their characters so real. The dialogue is sharp with an arsenal of one-liners.
The premise of the show is how five women from a college swim team swore to remain friends forever. They agreed to meet every August for a weekend at a beach cottage on the North Carolina coast. The play spans over 50 years and we witness the characters’ lives piecemeal during these weekends…their marriages, children, divorces, illnesses. There are many laughs and a poignant moment or two.
No single actress can be singled out as the “star.” All five of these ladies are first rate and contribute equally to the show. If the group has a matriarch, it’s Sheree played by Kristen Campbell. Kristen, a very experienced actress, brings her character to life exceptionally well. Sheree is the ultimate organizer who reserves the cabin every year, keeps everyone in line and forces her awful health food appetizers on everyone. She leads the group in their swim team cheer every year. Their mantra is “The faster we swim, the sooner we win.” Bravo, Kristen!
Dinah is portrayed by Tanya Guillotte. Dinah is a no-nonsense lawyer who always has an alcoholic beverage in her hand. Tanya is a veteran performer on the OCP stage and always breaths life into her parts. Dinah, the wise-cracking overachiever is a career dynamo which contrasts with frustrations of her personal life. Good show, Tanya!
Lexie is beautifully played by Angie Hill-McClelland. ‘Beautiful’ is the operative word here. She is stunning in her portrayal of the vain, often married character who is constantly holding on to youth with cosmetic surgery. Lexie vacillates from shrew to nice and back again. Great job, Angie!
Another veteran of OCP, Codie Vasquez, plays Vernadette, who has some of the most funny and ascerbic lines in the play. Vernadette is perpetually injured and has a deadbeat husband, delinquent children, and a truck bumper held on with duct tape. Codie has a show stopping speech about Southern women making biscuits which is sure to win applause from the audience!
Last, but certainly not least, is Jeri, portrayed by yet another OCP veteran, Janet Bland. Jeri begins the play as nun and nothing more will be revealed to avoid a spoiler. Janet is the most believable in her role, and the audience soon thinks she is Jeri. Jeri is sweet, caring, and eager-to-please and Janet is amazing in her portrayal. Kudos, Janet!
Director, Hill, has evoked some new and interesting technology at the beginning and end of the play that the audience will enjoy. The set is lovely and the costumes terrific.
“The Dixie Swim Club” performances are available at 7:37 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 14; Thursday, Feb. 19 through Saturday, Feb. 21; and a matinee is at 2:37 p.m., Sunday, Feb. 22. Admission is $15 for adults and $10 for students. Call 409-882-9137 for reservations.