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Come Back to the 5 & Dime, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean

by Ed Grayczyk

COMPANY : Lionheart Theatre Company [WEBSITE]
VENUE : College Street Playhouse
ID# 4716

SHOWING : May 01, 2015 - May 17, 2015



Director Rick Thompson
Edna Louise Laura Dietrich
Sissy (1975) Lisa Finlayson
Stella May Brandi Kilgore
Juanita Rebecca Knoff
Sissy (1955) Lauren Lieb
Set design/decor/props Tanya Moore
Joanne Briana Murray
Joe Melissa Rainey
Mona (1975) Cat Roche
Mona (1955) Jillian Walzer
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A Nickel-and-Dime Drama
by playgoer
Sunday, May 17, 2015
Ed Grayczyk’s "Come Back to the 5 & Dime, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean" tells a somewhat sordid story of a group of friends gathering in 1975 for a 20-year reunion of their James Dean fan club in a dying, drying Texas town. Three of the roles are cast with two versions of the same character, ostensibly twenty years apart in age, while three other actresses play the same role in both time periods. It could be confusing, but the lighting design by Gary White and blocking by director Rick Thompson help distinguish the two time periods.

The set, designed by Rick Thompson, with set decoration by him and Tanya Moore, shows us a small-town five-and-dime store filled with period knick-knacks and a James Dean shrine, the door and windows looking out onto a sere landscape. It has been decked out with a variety of holiday decorations, explained as an attempt to reflect the passing years and seasons since the last fan club meeting. It’s the sort of set with such a variety of detail that an audience’s eyes could be entertained just looking it over during dull sections of the script.

The script doesn’t have any unrelievedly dull sections, though. Once all nine actors are introduced, there’s enough action going on onstage at all moments to keep the audience’s attention, and the varied, character-specific costumes by Laura Lankford and the cast draw attention of their own. This is not a particularly long show, and it goes along briskly.

The roles are well cast in terms of resemblances between younger and older versions of the same characters. Cat Roche and Jillian Walzer (Mona, older and younger) are both attractive blondes with down-played looks, while Lisa Finlayson and Lauren Lieb (Sissy, older and younger) are bombshells, flaunting all they’ve got (including, apparently, a bottle of peroxide somewhere along the line). The looks/mannerisms of all the other characters are well-suited to their roles, and they’re all cast in roles that play to their strong suits: Laura Dietrich as a tentative, insecure Edna Louise; Brandi Kilgore as a brassy, braying Stella May; Rebecca Knoff as a staid, God-fearing Juanita; Briana Murray as a mysterious, husky-voiced Joanne; and Melissa Rainey as a slight, haunted Joe.

All the actresses inhabit their roles believably. The casting of the show is spot-on, apart from some age discrepancies that are unavoidable with part of the cast simultaneously twenty years apart in age, with the others split in two across the two time periods. Individually, they’re all very good. Even so, relationships don’t quite jell in the way they could. The feeling is less that of an ensemble than of a collection of talented individuals.

The script builds slowly, then veers between the sensational and the pat when wrapping things up. It’s a generally satisfactory ending, but there’s not much of a feeling in this production that the lives of the individuals have been changed in any meaningful way. Part of the reason is in the script, and part is in the direction. These are women who come together and finally acknowledge some crucial, hidden facts of their shared past, then go their separate ways. The catharsis of revealed secrets doesn’t come through in Lionheart’s production. [POST A COMMENT REGARDING THIS REVIEW]
Come Back to the Five-and-Dime, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean
by WendallHW
Thursday, May 14, 2015
Peering through the lens of causality during a time of inequity and single-mindedness, Come Back to the Five-and-Dime, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean provides a unique look at how the friendships people form can grow and achieve catharsis over time. I’ve had the good fortune to have seen this Ed Grayczck play performed numerous times in the past, but this weekend’s performance at Lionheart Theatre was truly a standout.

The first and one of the most recognizable strengths of this production is the quality of its set design by Tanya Moore. The set is “deceiving to the eye” (as they say frequently throughout the play) and delivers a sense of appreciation for a bygone Americana. The use of clever lighting deftly conveys the many different jumps through time and gave the audience the ability to see how time molded the characters’ personas. If I had one complaint about the set, it would be the tables situated close to the end stage which forms a unnatural barrier between the audience and the actors.

Director Rick Thompson leads a talented cast that represents the same characters over the span of two decades and centers around the Disciples of James Dean, a devoted, if not demented, fan club. Taking on the role of both protagonist and antagonist, Cat Roche’s interpretation of Mona, a conflicted woman struck with the duality of possessing a regal bearing while being borderline delusional, sets the tone for the entire play. Portraying the vivacious Sissy, Lisa Finlayson captures the character’s vulnerability belied by her promiscuity. Arguably the most powerful moment in the play comes when Joe (Melissa Rainey) pleads for the affection of the younger version of Mona (Jillian Walzer). While I could very easily rain praise down on each actor multiple times, they all have their individual moments to shine on stage.

I think the show has one or two weekends left. If you happen upon this review, I can’t encourage you enough to see this play before its run ends.
No numeric rating? by playgoer
Or did the system reset it to zero when you edited the review? (It does that!)
by WendallHW
Thank you for pointing that out, Play Goer.


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