By Mark Rountree
STILLWATER, Okla. —
When casting Town & Gown Theatre’s opening play of its 62nd season, director Paul Weber knew he needed five women whose personalities could carry a character-driven performance.
He found those big-personality actors to make “The Dixie Swim Club” a delight. From the over-the-top Lexie, the vodka-loving Dinah, the master organizer Sheree, the southern charmer Jeri Neal and the bawdy (and always physically injured) Vernadette, Weber has assembled a girls club ensemble that has audiences laughing at one turn and crying the next.
“Directing them has been like being a grizzled old coach for a veteran team,” Weber wrote in his director notes, “just bark at them every once in a while to remind them you are alive, and stay out of the way and watch them do their stuff.”
The cast tells the story of five southern women who competed on the same college swim team and continued their friendship throughout their adult lives, which are marked by marriages, breakups, children, illness and tragedy. They meet each summer at a coastal beach house to renew their lifelong friendships and go for a “group swim,” which has poignment meaning at play’s end.
“It’s a really good script and a really great story that I think people will enjoy,” said Bonnie Cain-Wood, who portrays Lexie. “There’s a little bit of everything in it.”
Audiences will notice the different personalities of each of the five characters, and they likely will recognize in the characters someone they know in their own lives.
“I’m sure you will be able to relate to at least one of the characters,” said Shannon DeYong, who directed last summer’s musical and is light board operator in this play.
“If you are going to come to this play, you are going to have to come prepared to have a good time,” said Tracy Freeman, who plays Vernadette. “Each of our audiences so far has had a good time. There were times when we didn’t know if we were going to get through some of the lines because people would not stop laughing. We knew it was funny, but to get that reaction from the audience, it has been astounding.”
The cast delighted audiences in the show’s first run last week, and figure to do just the same again this week.
The play resumes with four more showings this week. Performances are at 7:30 p.m. Thursday through Saturday, and 2:30 p.m. Sunday. Admission is $12 for adults and $10 for students. Seniors will be admitted for $10 on Sunday. The theater is located at 3524 S. Perkins Road.