Swim Club Members Share Life, Laughs

Dixie Swim Club Elkhart Civic Theatre Bristol IN

It comes as no surprise that some of the friendships we make in high school and college are the ones that last for life.

Such are those between the five protagonists of the current Elkhart Civic Theatre production “The Dixie Swim Club.”

The comedy by Jessie Jones, Nicholas Hope and Jamie Wooten opened Friday evening at the Bristol Opera House and, within 10 minutes, had the audience laughing, a condition that continued in some degree throughout the four scenes of the two-hour (including intermission) show.

The title obviously indicates the collegiate activity that brought them together. The timeline covers 33 years of an annual August weekend in a summer cottage on the Outer Banks of North Carolina.

Th cottage is owned by Sheree (Stephanie Yoder), team captain and daughter of the coach, who still sees her assignment as making sure everything — and everyone — is in order. This includes serving her “signature” hors d’oeuvres which gathering members profess to love and quickly get rid of when she’s not looking..

Dixie Swim Club Elkjart Civic Theatre Bristol INEach of the characters has a definite if not stereotypical persona. It is to their credit, and to director Tim Yoder, that the “types” soon become individuals, easy to identify among our own acquaintances.

Lexi (Mary Norwood) is the much-married matron, working on her third husband as the action begins and looking for number five at the conclusion. Fashion and appearance are at the top of her list and plastic surgery tops motherhood.

Making up for Lexi’s lack of maternal instinct is the self-deprecating Vernadette (Jennifer Ross), whose children are frequently just this side of the law. Tolerating her abusive husband, she faces life and its many obstacles with a sharp, stinging wit. Her diatribe in defense of southern biscuits is a real show-stopper and her sense of comic timing and delivery cannot be taught.

Dixie Swim Club  Elkhart Civic Theatre  Bristol INRepresenting the law is Dinah (Stacey LeVan Nickel), an unmarried attorney with a cynical outlook and a predeliction for martinis. Her success in the courtroom makes up for her lonely personal life.

Completing the aquatic quintet is Jeri Neal (Laura Mosher), a soft-spoken late-bloomer whose unexpected appearance provides a real shock to them all.

Tim Yoder and his assistant director Demaree Dufour Noneman have chosen the right actresses for the roles and the camaraderie that brings — and holds — them together is the bricks and mortar of this less-than-heavyweight look at life. The finale is more a “Steel Magnolias” wannabe and not necessary to enforce the strength of the comradeship.

It should be noted that Mosher and Ross are making their first appearances for ECT. They are in the company of veterans and the entire ensemble works well and easily together.

Since the action requires the players to age 33 years, wigs are required and, for the most part, serve well. The physical ages, which according to the program timeline had to end in mid 70s at the final curtain, were less believable.

The setting, by John Shoup makes a shore cottage the perfect place to spend much more than a weekend.

Actually, I’m ready to hit the beach!

‘THE DIXIE SWIM CLUB’ plays through May 22 in the Bristol Opera House. For performance times and reservations, call 848-4116 between 1 and5:30 p.m. weekdays or visit www.elkhartcivictheatre.org.

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