The Dixie Swim Club

How long has it been since you had a good, old-fashioned belly laugh? Make your reservations now for the Marion Art Center’s production of The Dixie Swim Club, a comedy by Jessie Jones, Nicholas Hope and Jamie Wooten. The show will open on Friday, March 28 and will run on Saturday, March 29 at 7:30 pm and Sunday, March 30 in a matinee performance at 2:00 pm, Friday, April 4 and Saturday, April 5 at 7:30 pm. The all-female production in two acts is directed by Rex McGraw and features Marion Art Center Players Suzie Kokkins, Suzy Taylor, Michele Letourneau, Kim Teves and Linda Landry.

Enduring friendships are among the most important aspects of human existence. They sustain us when all else fails – marriages, children, careers, investments. The Dixie Swim Club, in many ways a companion piece to Steel Magnolias, celebrates the best of women’s relationships and the best aspects of Southern culture. And if you loved the quick repartee and situational comedy of TV’s The Golden Girls, you will love this show as writers Jessie Jones, Nicholas Hope and Jamie Wooten all worked on that show.

The five Southern women, whose friendships began many years ago on their college swim team, set aside a long weekend every August to recharge those relationships. Free from husbands, kids and jobs, they meet at the same beach cottage on North Carolina’s Outer Banks to catch up, laugh and meddle in each other’s lives. The Dixie Swim Club focuses on four of those weekends and spans a period of 33 years. Sheree (played by Kim Teves), the spunky team captain, desperately tries to maintain her organized and “perfect” life, and continues to be the group’s leader. Dinah (played by Linda Landry), the wisecracking overachiever, is a career dynamo. But her victories in the courtroom are in stark contrast to the frustrations of her personal life. Lexie (played by Suzie Kokkins), pampered and outspoken, is determined to hold on to her looks and youth as long as possible. She enjoys being married – over and over and over again. The self-deprecating and acerbic Vernadette (played by Suzy Taylor), acutely aware of the dark cloud that hovers over her life, has decided to just give in and embrace the chaos. And sweet, eager-to-please Jeri Neal (played by Michele Letourneau) experiences a late entry into motherhood that takes them all by surprise. As their lives unfold and the years pass, these women increasingly rely on one another, through advice and raucous repartee, to get through the challenges (men, sex, marriage, parenting, divorce, aging) that life flings at them. And when fate throws a wrench into one of their lives in the second act, these friends, proving the enduring power of “teamwork,” rally ’round their own with the strength and love that takes this comedy in a poignant and surprising direction.

By the time The Dixie Swim Club reaches its final act, the characters are in their late 70s, and we’ve seen 33 years unfold inside the small cottage. Children have become parents, and parents have become grandparents; new relationships form and old ones fade.

Despite everything that occurs, nothing really changes – the characters might grow older and further apart, but their essences remain the same. In the case of The Dixie Swim Club, their worlds revolve around those weekends at their cottage, and they’re at their happiest when they’re with one another, a cocktail in one hand and a biscuit in the other.

The story has heart. You can’t watch characters develop relationships over 33 years and not get attached to them. Some of the developments are sad, some surprising, some satisfying. But the story’s serious side isn’t half as good as the humor.

To make a reservation, please call 508-748-1266. Guests are invited to bring their own refreshments. Cabaret tables are available for reserved parties of four. Reservations are highly recommended as this is sure to be a sellout. Tickets are $12.50 for MAC members and $15 for general public. The Marion Art Center is located at 80 Pleasant Street in Marion.

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