After performing to sold-out audiences every performance night last summer, the women of “The Dixie Swim Club,” are back.
The comedy/drama has moved theaters and a life-changing event has impacted one cast member.
The play moved from the tiny St. George Anglican Church to the Scottish Rite Little Theatre on Second Avenue.
“It’s like a new show,” Sandy Dawson said. “This (theater) is twice as big.”
Susan Dolan said the group was lucky to have both theaters host the play.
Sadly, Bonnie Hagerty’s husband, Roger, died in November. In the play, Hagerty said various losses are discussed.
“Every character has to deal with death,” Carlyn Smith said.
“When we did it the first time, life was different,” Dawson said. “We are very fortunate to have Bonnie with us. We had to do this.”
Director Lou Smith said simply that he wanted to do something for Hagerty, and doing this show was it.
Still mourning, Hagerty said doing this play has helped her a lot because she’s been surrounded by her supportive friends.
“Before, you believed they were friends, now you KNOW they are friends,” Smith said.
The other actresses are Jean Morris and Susan Dolan.
The five women appreciate this production because they get to represent their characters at various ages -- 44 to 77.
“This is a good show for women,” Dawson said.
Lou Smith, who is married to Carlyn, calls “The Dixie Swim Club” the new “Steel Magnolias.”
The difference, Hagerty said, is this play portrays a longer period of time than “Steel Magnolias.”
It covers issues that most women face -- growing up, men, marriage, having children, parenting, going through menopause, aging, divorce and dealing with death.
“This play touches on all these subjects in a very real way,” Hagerty said.
The playwrights, Jessie Jones, Nicholas Hope and Jamie Wooten, have written a play that portrays “funny little slices of Southern life,” Carlyn Smith said.
“If you don’t cry at the end, I’ll be very disappointed,” Carlyn Smith said.
Because they have done the show before and because they’ve all become so close, they sometimes recite each others’ lines,” Morris said.
And Dawson jokes that she’s the one who forgets her lines and makes them up on stage.
The cast said they are fortunate to have their “minions,” Nancy Bolt (hair, makeup and costumes), stage manager Forrest Kelley, sound tech Connie Kelley and assistant stage manager Jeremy Steadman, working backstage.
Another Jones, Hope and Wooten play, “Christmas Belles,” will be produced by the Vagabond Players later this year, Lou Smith said.
These women are giving back to the community. Last August, part of the proceeds from the show went to Columbus Hospice. This year, they are giving to Scottish Rite.
“The Dixie Swim Club” is about five women who remain friends long after their college swim team days are over. Every year, they spend a long weekend at the beach to discuss their lives since their last gathering.
The play highlights just four weekend get-togethers that span more than 50 years. The first featured weekend takes place 22 years after graduation, the second outing is five years afater. After intermission, the audience gets a peek at life 10 years after and the final scene is 23 years after that. Director Smith said while it’s not meant for children, there is no bad language. Still it would help to have some life experience to appreciate the show.
Doland plays Sheree, the former swim team captain, who is the organizer.
Morris plays Vernadette, the woman who has to deal with things never going right in her life. She’s easy-going, but unlucky in life.
Hagerty plays Jeri Neal, a ditzy woman who makes unusual life choices. She’s sweet and naive.
Smith plays Dinah, a career-driven woman whose hobby is drinking martinis.
Dawson is Lexie, the Southern belle who has been married five times. She’s doing everything possible to keep herself looking young.