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The Dixie Swim Club

a Comedy
by Jesse Jones, Nicholas Hope, Jamie Wooten

COMPANY : Onstage Atlanta, Inc. [WEBSITE]
VENUE : Onstage Atlanta on Ponce [WEBSITE]
ID# 5130

SHOWING : September 15, 2017 - October 01, 2017



Created by the same team who brought you "The Savannah Sipping Society," "The Dixie Swim Club" is the story of five unforgettable Southern women, who set aside a long weekend every August to reconnect. As 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. A hilarious and surprisingly poignant look the enduring power of friendship.

Director Cathe Hall Payne
Vernadette Simms Lory Cox
Sheree Hollinger Bobbie Elzey
Lexie Richards Phyllis Giller
Dinah Grayson Lateefah D. Mosley
Jeri Neal McFeeley Cat Roche
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Dixie Chicks Live
by playgoer
Tuesday, September 19, 2017
"The Dixie Swim Club" takes place in a rental cottage on the outer banks of North Carolina. In Onstage Atlanta’s production, though, Angela Short’s set doesn’t look very beachy. Sure, there are a lot of sea-related knickknacks on the walls and a big picture window, but the somber colors of the wall and the blue-lit sheet outside the window don’t suggest the beach at all. A big, uncluttered space in the center with a doorway on either side screams "suburban home" much more than "beach house." Charlie Miller’s sound design gives us some flavor of beach sounds, although bird calls don’t much resemble those of sea gulls. Elisabeth Cooper’s lighting design is plagued by the persistent Onstage Atlanta problem of uneven lighting along the lip of the stage, with actors gliding through alternating bands of light and shadow as they move across the far downstage area.

These mediocre technical aspects of the show are almost made up for by the splendid costume design by Scott Rousseau. There are terrific costumes (and wigs) for everyone, ranging from the schlubby outfits for Vernadette (Lory Cox) to the elegant outfits for Lexie (Phyllis H. Giller). Ms. Cox and Ms. Giller seem to be of an age, and Lateefah D. Mosley as Dinah does a fine job of aging in tandem with them, but Cat Roche (Jeri Neal) seems to be half the age of Sheree (Bobbie Elzey), which ruins the illusion that these women all swam on the same college swim team at the same time. Ms. Elzey in particular fails at portraying a believably aging health food nut proud of her figure. The first three scenes each take place five years apart, starting in 1983; the last scene is close to the modern day. Costumes don’t "scream" a particular year or decade, but transition believably as the women age.

Aside from casting too wide a variety of ages, director Cathe Hall Payne has done a fine job. Blocking is good (minus those times when an actress traverses the lip of the stage, highlighting the deficiencies in lighting), but a lot of the time women are sitting (mostly on the sofa center, but occasionally on chairs at either side of the stage). Given the low rise between rows in the audience, this can lead to sightline issues for some audience members.

The most important parts of the play -- the acting and the plot -- are given their full due. Jones, Hope, and Wooten always pepper their plays with tons of funny lines and situations, and Ms. Payne’s direction ensures that all of them get hearty laughs. Particularly stunning performances come from Ms. Giller, elegant and delightfully self-centered throughout, and from Ms. Cox, whose accident-prone white trash persona transitions movingly in the final scene. Ms. Payne has honed the performances into a cohesive ensemble with palpable chemistry, providing a nice introduction to the work of Jones, Hope, and Wooten for any audience members unfamiliar with their body of work. [POST A COMMENT REGARDING THIS REVIEW]


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