The Dixie Swim Club: On Stage in Fresno

Jan 12, 2011 | 2011 Articles, Arts & Entertainment, Lorie Lewis Ham

by Lorie Lewis Ham

This past weekend I had the chance to see The Dixie Swim Club at Good Company Players’ Second Space Theatre. I had never heard of this show, but the premise sounded interesting.

The Dixie Swim Club is about five southern women; Sheree, Lexi, Dinah, Vernadette, and Jeri Neal, who were on a college swim team and meet up every August at the same beach house on the outer banks of North Carolina, shared show director Denise Graziani. “The play, spanning a time period of some 31 years, from 1979 to 2010, is a comedy, much like The Golden Girls TV sitcom, in that we are allowed, as audience members, to drop in and share some of the women’s life stories, both hilarious and heartwarming.”

Dixie Swim Club cast-front left to right: Karan Johnson as Vernadette Simms, Lori Hickey as Jeri Neal McFeeley & Valerie Munoz as Sheree Hollinger. Back row left to right: Elizabeth Stoeckel as Dinah Grayson & Tina Coppock as Lexi Richards

This was indeed an enjoyable, funny, and heartwarming story that not only did I enjoy, but my 18-year-old daughter did as well. While I believe men would enjoy this show too, I think it’s a perfect girl’s night out kind of show to see because we can all relate to some part of it.

Denise asked to direct The Dixie Swim Club because she really enjoyed reading it. “It’s well written, with both humor and poignancy, and a small cast of all women. I thought it would be a lot of fun working on a play with all women.”

She found that her biggest challenge with directing this play was the time span that it covered. The first three scenes are five years apart, but the fourth and final scene takes place some 21 years later. “The look and feel of the production came together successfully with the production staff: David Pierce, set design; Ginger Kay Lewis-Reed, costume design, Missie Rhinehart, props, and Evan Commins and Brandi Martin, light design. And, of course, the actors have done a wonderful job with their vocal and physical appearances to make that leap as believable as possible.”

As far as Denise knows, this is the first production of this play in this immediate area. GCP produced another show by this team of playwrights, Dearly Beloved, last season and it did very well. The ensemble cast includes Valerie Munoz as Sheree Hollinger, Tina Coppock as Lexi Richards, Elizabeth Stoeckel as Dinah Grayson, Karan Johnson as Vernadette Simms, and Lori Hickey as Jeri Neal McFeeley. “It was a pleasure working with all of these ladies on this production. I know that there will be many audience members who will identify with one or all of the characters at some point in the play. Although it’s a play about five women, I think that men will also enjoy the situation humor as much as the women do.”

“Working on a production with all women, including the crew; stage managers Tracy Jones and Abby Sager, set and costume changers Sierra Awbrey, Shari Wilcox and Marcia Burg; has been most enjoyable for me,” continued Denise. “Even after a month of rehearsals, I still find myself laughing at the lines and watching the cast bring it to life. It’s pure fun.”

The cast and crew did a wonderful job with this show and I highly recommend seeing it. Just as Denise said, it’s pure fun. The Dixie Swim Club will be on stage until February 20 at Second Space Theatre, 928 E. Olive in Fresno.

Box Office
• Contact & Hours – 266-0660 or 1-800-371-4747; open Tues. – Sun., beginning at 10 a.m.
• Location – the Box Office is located in the Lobby of Rocka’s Dinner Theatre, 1226 N. Wishon, at Olive and Wishon in The Tower District.
• $16 general admission; $15 students & seniors
• Groups of 16 or more are eligible for discounts and should call Dave at 559-266-9493 for information and reservation

Lorie Lewis Ham is our Editor-in-Chief and an enthusiastic contributor to various sections, coupling her journalism experience with her connection to the literary and entertainment worlds.



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