On Stage: May River Theatre's 'Dixie Swim Club' takes on life, bonds of friendship

features@islandpacket.comFebruary 12, 2014 

The cast of "Dixie Swim Club," presented by May River Theatre Company in Bluffton, are, standing, Donna Capps, Beth Woods and Rose Newton, and, sitting, Dianne Gibb and Terri Hsu.


Director: Christine Grefe

Lead actors: Dianne Gibb as Sheree Hollinger, Donna Capps as Lexie Richards, Beth Woods as Dinah Grayson, Terri Hsu as Vernadette Simms, Rose Newton as Jerri Neal McFeeley

The plot: "Dixie Swim Club," the last show in May River Theatre Company's season, is a hilarious and touching comedy about friendships that last forever revolving around five Southern women whose friendships began on their college swim team. Each August 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 play focuses on four of those weekends and spans a period of 33 years.

The story behind the show: "May River Theatre has not produced a non-musical show in a few years," Grefe said. " 'Dixie Swim Club' is a fun show, and we thought it would be a great addition to the season. It is funny and thoughtful and really celebrates the bond of true, deep friendship."

Director's take: "This is an amazing production for a lot of reasons," Grefe said. "We had so much interest right from the start. Twenty people auditioned for five roles. May River Theatre is a family, and we add to that family with each production. Dianne and Rose are first-timers to our stage. Beth and Donna are returning members, as is Terri -- though Terri is most often found behind the scenes as stage manager. 'Dixie Swim Club' touches on real problems, real life: how we deal with marriage, divorce, dating, children, aging, illness and how these women take it all in stride and help each other through these things while celebrating the best of life too."

Behind the scenes: "Rehearsals are so much fun. We have become as close as our characters have, and we laugh our way through each scene," Grefe said. "Also, every single actor has also contributed to the set. We have all come together to make sure this little beach cottage is as cozy as can be. (I think we all agree that we would stay there if it were a real rental.) Our set is really nice. It was built by piecing together flats from shows past, and was painted with love by each and every one of us under the direction of our technical director, Scott Grooms. Scott Grooms and Russ Conrad gave us a great foundation, and Tony Nicholson and Discount Furniture Warehouse and Mattress Outlet helped us stage it. Tony is our stage manager and set designer and has such talent turning a plain old set into a really warm, inviting, cozy beach cottage."

Run dates: 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and 3 p.m. Sundays, Feb. 14-March 2

Location: 138 Burnt Church Road in the Ulmer Theater of Bluffton Town Hall

Ticket prices: $25

Contact for tickets: May River Theatre Box Office, 843-815-5581


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