By Martie Thompson
Alhambra Theatre and Dining’s production of “Dixie Swim Club,” a warm hearted Southern comedy, will make you want to join the swim team. More than a “chick flick” for the stage, this comedic performance will surely produce a numerous chuckles if not outright belly laughs. The dialog is particularly sharp, with one-liners, banter and repartee that the cast aces.
The show is centered around five women who were members of their college swim team and have kept in touch over the years by meeting for a weekend each summer at a beach house on the Outer Banks of North Carolina. The Alhambra stage has been transformed into the living room of this quaint beach house and the four-act play features the women’s visits 22, 27, 32 and 55 years after their college graduation.
Stage and screen actress Morgan Fairchild stars as Lexie in the production, which also features fine performances by Vickie Hollinger as Sheree, Patti Eyler as Dinah, Brooks Anne Hayes Meierdierks as Vernadette and Lisa Valdini as Jeri Neal. The characters enjoy a camaraderie possibly due in part to their unique personalities. Sheree is the athletic one, always offering healthy yet inedible appetizers to her friends, while Lexie is the divorcee whose plastic surgery, many failed marriages and constant search for new men produce good natured eye rolls from her friends. Dinah is the successful career woman, an attorney with a penchant for martinis and Jeri Neal is a former nun who has a big secret that is the main reveal of the first act.
But it is the long-suffering and often injured mom, Vernadette, who is not only the scene stealer, but the show stealer. All of the actresses display impeccable comedic timing, particularly impressive due to the short amount of time they have had to perform together. Meierdierks, as Vernadette, gets the best lines, including Act 3’s ode to the biscuit, which Southern audiences will find particularly hilarious.
SInce the show spans a long time frame, it is interesting to see the actresses “age” throughout the play. They all remain recognizable as their alter egos, just older and wiser as they comically deal with children, husbands, relationships and aging itself. Despite the preponderance of women’s issues, male theatregoers will find humor and common ground in this comedy by Jessie Jones, Nicholas Hope and Jamie Wooten.
Over the years, as the their lives change in unpredictable ways, the five women continue to lean on one another each summer. The gatherings are a safe harbor for them and their old swim-team motto, “The faster we swim, the sooner we win!” ultimately symbolizes the enduring power of their friendship.
Executive Chef DeJuan Roy has created a true Southern menu to accompany this show. Appetizers include country ham salad and tomato basil bisque, and then patrons have a choice of prime rib, parmesan crusted salmon, and Chef DeJuan’s Food Network award winning canned ham with fingerling potatoes. Make sure you save room to finish off the meal with the warm peach cobbler with vanilla ice cream or the coconut cream pie.
“Dixie Swim Club” will be performed at Alhambra Theatre & Dining through Sept. 24. Visit www.alhambrajax.com for tickets.
Photo courtesy Alhambra Theatre & Dining
Vickie Daignault as Sheree, Patti Eyler as Dinah, Morgan Fairchild as Lexie, Lisa Valdini as Jeri Neal and Brooks Anne Hayes Meierdierks as Vernadette in “Dixie Swim Club.”