‘Dixie Swim Club’ a Southern breeze at Shelburne Players

Photo by Dick Martin
Laughs and shared memories among five college friends meeting for their annual weekend reunion made for an entertaining evening of fun presented by Shelburne Players. From left are Jill Silvia, Ann Greenen Naumann, Claire Giroux-Williams and Kate LaRiviere.

By Rosalyn Graham

The foundation of theater is our human experience told in stories — happy, sad or tragic, translated into comedies, tragedies or even musicals by talented playwrights, and shared with audiences by talented actors and actresses.

“Dixie Swim Club,” presented by Shelburne Players on the Shelburne Town Center stage last weekend and continuing this week on Thursday, Friday and Saturday, fits this definition perfectly (well, it isn’t a musical but it sure captures human experience.)

In “Dixie Swim Club,” a Jones Hope Wooten comedy, five college friends meet annually at a cottage on the Georgia coast for a weekend. Their lives have taken them in very different directions and their conversations, arguments, teasing, supporting, advising, criticizing and reminiscing are the stuff that good theater is built upon. And the show’s five well-cast actresses tell the stories very well.

Ann Greenan Naumann plays Sheree, an ultra-organized health food queen. Kate LaRiviere plays Lexie, whose focus is herself and keeping watch for her next husband. Claire Giroux-Williams is Dinah, a successful lawyer and the group’s bartender. Jill Silvia is Jeri Neal, a former nun whose story moves into motherhood and marriage. Isabelle Sharp is Vernadette, who copes with poverty, an abusive husband and two ne’er-do-well children. Isabelle also owns a very cute pooch named Chanel whose quiet snuggling throughout the “years” of the play was very impressive.

Director Liz Fotouhi created a very entertaining and revealing evening of theater, aided by excellent set designers and builders Roger and Betsy Howland, by Gerry Lawrence’s music and sound effects, by Larry Miller’s lights, Gunnar Sievert as stage manager, and energetic Sue Martin as producer.

And the audience response was an indication of how successful they were — from the laughs that greeted the witty interchanges among the characters, and the grins and nods that signaled appreciation for the wise comments of the five women as they progressed from their 44-year-old selves at the beginning of the play to their 77-year-old selves in the last act.

And the Southern accents and the warm, sunshiny glow at the window (except during the hurricane scene) added greatly to the feeling of being transported to the sunny South for a few hours), a feeling much appreciated by the audience as opening weekend coincided with a return of Vermont’s long winter.

“Dixie Swim Club” will be presented Thursday, April 19, Friday, April 20, and Saturday, April 21, at 7:30 p.m. at the Shelburne Town Center.

For tickets, go to shelburneplayers.com or purchase at Shelburne Market.

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