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The Dixie Swim Club, which details a lifetime friendship between five women that competed on a college swim team together, debuts at 7:30 p.m. Feb. 4 at Cactus Shadows Fine Arts Center. For information on the show go to desertfoothillstheater.com.

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Dixie Swim Club debuts in Scottsdale
MARC BUCKHOUT ~ MANAGING EDITOR ~ 1/26/2011

 

While some people float in and out of each other’s lives other relationships stand
the test of time.
Desert Foothills Theater’s production of “Dixie Swim Club,” which debuts Feb. 4, tells the story of five Southern women who maintain a lifetime friendship spawned as teammates on their college swim team by reuniting on an annual basis.
“It’s a look at relationships that have been built for years,” director Lori Vander Maten said. “These women built a bond 20 years ago when they worked together to become champions. They’re very different characters, but they have that special connection. In the water there was equality and they needed each other. That sense of team has maintained throughout their lives and their friendships grow deeper through the years.”
Vander Maten, who has worked with Desert Foothills Theater for the last three years, said the Dixie Swim Club, which was written in 2006, was a show she was thrilled to get the opportunity to produce.
“It’s a heartfelt story,” she said. “The script is really funny. All the characters have a bunch of good lines. It’s just well written all the way around.”
The story, written by playwrights/screenwriters Jessie Jones, Nicholas Hope and Jamie Wooten, whose screen credits include The Golden Girls and Kingdom Come, takes place at the beach cottage where the women meet each summer.
Cave Creek resident Kaydee Wilson was drawn by the story as well as Vander Maten’s encouragement to make just her second theater performance in the last 12 years.
The 13-year Cave Creek resident said that while her experience has generally been in musicals she couldn’t pass up the opportunity to play Jeri Neale.
“I am the teammate that became a nun after college,” she said. “My character is a little ditzy, but she’s a ray of sunshine. One of the things I like is that all five of us play strong characters. Everybody in the crowd should be able to find at least one character that they can relate to.”
Vander Maten agrees.
“Sheree is the team captain,” she said. “She’s hyper-organized. The saying is once a team captain always a team captain. She tries to run the other women’s lives. She’s very loving, but has a little obsessive compulsive in her. Lexie is a southern belle that never met a plastic surgeon she didn’t like. She refuses to age. Dinah is a lawyer from Atlanta that is very successful, very career driven and has never had time for a meaningful relationship. Her hobby is drinking. She’s a lush, but in the nicest way. Jeri is very sweet and innocent. She’s a little naïve and doesn’t always catch the jokes right away. And then there’s Vernadette. She unfortunately has the black cloud that follows her everywhere she goes. She has the worst luck in the world, but somehow doesn’t seem to let it get her down too much.”
The performance plays out over four different reunions, the first approximately 20 years after college. The next meeting is approximately five years later. The third occurs five years after that and then the fourth takes place when the characters are in their 70s.
In producing a play that spans some 30 years Vander Maten said there were a number of logistical challenges.
“The first is how do you age people that much,” she said. “We’ve done some things with makeup and wigs to show the passing of time and then with their costumes to accommodate the change in fashions from 1977, when the play starts to the present day, but the more difficult challenge is with showing those passing years when it comes to the set.”
The director said she believes that the show’s cast has developed a good bond in the time they’ve rehearsed together.
“It has been so much fun to watch these actors grow inside these characters,” she said. “I think people are going to believe that these characters have known each other for years.”
Wilson said there’s an overriding theme that should give the play a broad spectrum of appeal.
“It’s the unconditional love,” she said. “These women don’t run in the same crowds on a regular basis. They see each other occasionally beyond the annual reunion trip, but for the most part they are from different walks of life. But they keep this commitment to each other because of unconditional love. The play is labeled a dramatic comedy. It has moments where the crowd will be laughing, but it also has some poignant moments that
could bring some tears.”
The show opens with a preview performance at 7:30 p.m. Feb. 3 at Cactus Shadows Fine Arts Center Black Box Theater. There will also be 7:30 p.m. performances Feb. 4, Feb. 5, Feb. 11, Feb. 12, Feb 18, and Feb. 19. Matinee performances are set for Feb. 6, Feb 13 and the run’s finale on Feb. 20.
Tickets, which are $20 for adults and $15 for students, can be purchased at 480-488-1981 or at desertfoothillstheater.com.