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Five Women Strengthen Their Friendships in Jones Hope Wooten’s Comedy “The Dixie Swim Club”

"The Dixie Swim Club" stars (from left) Donna Rossi-Youngblood, Sandi Sullivan,  JoAnne Dickinson, Kathy Norris, and Suzanne Kennedy (photo by Ron Foreman)

"The Dixie Swim Club" stars (from left) Donna Rossi-Youngblood, Sandi Sullivan, JoAnne Dickinson, Kathy Norris, and Suzanne Kennedy (photo by Ron Foreman)

University Theatre at N.C. State will stage The Dixie Swim Club (2008), another Southern-fried comedy by Jessie Jones, Nicholas Hope, and Jamie Wooten, on May 26-29 and June 1, 4, 5, 9, and 12 in the Titmus Theatre in Frank Thompson Hall on the NCSU campus. The first of three plays presented as part of TheatreFest 2011: Southern Comfort, The Dixie Swim Club will be performed, in rotating repertory, with Southern Comforts by Kathleen Clark (June 2, 3, 5, 8, 10-12, 15, 18, and 19) and WMKS, Where Music Kills Sorrow, by Frank Higgins (June 16, 17, 19, and 22-26).

The Dixie Swim Club was first brought to my attention by staff member Nancy Breeding,” recalls University Theatre director John C. McIlwee, who will stage the show. McIlwee will also double (triple?) as set and costume designer for The Dixie Swim Club, which stars Donna Rossi-Youngblood, Sandi Sullivan, JoAnne Dickinson, Kathy Norris, and Suzanne Kennedy.

McIlwee adds, “We have had great success with other plays by Jessie Jones, Nicholas Hope, and Jamie Wooten. We have done their Dearly Departed [1992] and Christmas Belles [2007], with sell-out crowds every night. This play is an old-fashioned ‘hoot,’ and the pace is swift and guaranteed to bring laughter at every witty turn. I am so pleased Nancy [Breeding] brought it to our attention….

“I really enjoy the interaction between the women in this play,” McIlwee confesses, “and I am delighted with the cast and their ability to bring warmth and humor to each well-written moment. As a Southerner myself, I do recognize members of my family easily in [Jones Hope Wooten’s] dialogue and even in their situations. It is the perfect TheatreFest show, with characters the audiences will find familiar and funny!”

In The Dixie Swim Club, director John McIlwee says, “Five women strengthen their enduring friendships by meeting in the same Outer Banks cottage on the same weekend every year to celebrate their college swim team’s success and ‘catch-up’ with their triumphs and tragedies. Sheree (Suzanne Kennedy), the team captain, never stops organizing; Lexie (Donna Youngblood) never stops looking in a mirror; Dinah (JoAnne Dickinson) is never without a martini shaker; Vernadette (Kathy Norris ) is never without a disaster; and Jeri Neal (Sandi Sullivan) is never without a quote from her Granny McFeely to fit every occasion.

“On four of these weekends, spanning 33 years, everything in their lives is discussed, dissected, and displayed with laughter, tears and, most importantly, with love,” says McIlwee.

In addition to director and set and costume designer John McIlwee, the University Theatre at N.C. State creative team for The Dixie Swim Club includes technical director David Jensen, assistant technical director Andrew Korhonen, lighting designer Paul Pharris, and stage manager Mette C.J. Schladweiler.

“The set is a whitewashed barn-board cottage on North Carolina’s Outer Banks,” explains John McIlwee. “The lighting is warm and reflective of the beach and climate of the play’s setting. The costumes are colorful representatives of the time periods, starting in 1988 and coming forward to the present.”

McIlwee adds, “When working to create a strong ensemble with any cast, there are often challenges in meshing the way each individual actor works to achieve characterization. This becomes even more important when a small cast must develop a bond that is palpable to the audience.

“We are having great fun working toward that goal,” says John McIlwee, “and I am particularly enjoying the experience of working with these very talented and experienced actresses.”

University Theatre at N.C. State presents THE DIXIE SWIM CLUB at 7:30 p.m. May 26-28; 2 p.m. May 29; 7:30 p.m. June 1, 4, 5, and 9; and 2 p.m. June 12 in the Titmus Theatre in Frank Thompson Hall, on E. Dunn Ave. at Jensen Dr., in Raleigh, NC 27607, on the NCSU campus.

TICKETS: $13-$15 ($5 NCSU students) per show, $33 ($15 NCSU students) for all three shows, and $26 ($10 NCSU students) for two shows.

BOX OFFICE: 919/515-1100 or http://purchase.tickets.com/.

SHOW/SERIES: http://www.ncsu.edu/theatre/theatrefest/index.html.

PRESENTER: http://www.ncsu.edu/theatre/index.html.

VENUE: http://www.ncsu.edu/arts/thompson/index.html.

DIRECTIONS/PARKING: http://www.ncsu.edu/arts/mapsanddirections.html.

OTHER LINKS:

The Play: http://www.joneshopewooten.com/dixie-swim-club.html (official web page) and http://www.dramatists.com/cgi-bin/db/single.asp?key=3918 (Dramatists Play Service, Inc.).

The Playwrights: http://www.joneshopewooten.com/ (official website) and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jones_Hope_Wooten_(Playwrights) (Wikipedia).

EDITOR’S NOTE:

Robert W. McDowell is editor and publisher of Triangle Theater Review, a FREE weekly e-mail theatrical newsletter that provides more comprehensive, in-depth coverage of Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill theater than all of the other news media combined. This preview is reprinted with permission from Triangle Theater Review.

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