Review: Play celebrates best friends forever

Published 8:53 pm Saturday, March 8, 2014

The Brookhaven Little Theatre production of “The Dixie Swim Club” brings the bonds of friendships to town on the waves of child-bearing, divorce disasters, frequent feuds, life-threatening secrets, financial hardships and all of the other real-life events that come with friendships formed and rarely carried throughout life.

From the beautiful beach-house set created by assistant director Sherri Mathis and the pre-show and intermission music compiled by Greg Russell to the camaraderie of the cast, the show is start-to-finish refreshing. The lives of Sheree, Lexie, Dinah, Vernadette and Jeri Neal are hauntingly real, as they portray every Southern woman at every stage of life. The friendship they share covers it all – children, husbands, careers, aging and even death – some gracefully; some not so much.

The direction of Shaw Furlow is clean and natural. He has allowed (did he really have a choice by directing five women?) this cast – three of whom are newcomers to the BLT stage – to morph into their characters and embrace each as her own.

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Julie Perry daily lives the life of Lexie Richards as the self-absorbed diva, loved by no one as much as herself. She makes her debut on the BLT stage with this production, but I would think it a safe bet to say it is not the last time you will see her here!

Sue Junkin is another newcomer to the BLT Stage. She is the spunky health food-and-control-obsessed friend who calls everyone together each August for their annual “Girls Weekend” to Orange Beach. Her desire to keep the swim team together drives the group to overcome many of life’s obstacles.

Mandy Dann is a veteran on the BLT stage. It is great to see her back on stage in the role of Dinah Grayson, a successful attorney living in Atlanta. She enjoys her martinis, and her quick wit will catch no one off guard. A truly heart-felt performance!

Shelley Harrigill plays Jeri Neal McFeeley, a nun of 25 years who left the convent and shows up one August with a huge surprise for the girls. Her performance here is another debut. She is natural and very comfortable on the stage. Her naïve personality and character keep this group on their toes.

Finally, veteran actress Deanna Ezell is Vernadette Simms. Her marriage to Burl and the misguided lives of her children – especially Eddie Mac – will make you chuckle and shake your head because you actually KNOW people like her.

These women will capture your heart and you will find yourself in every one of them over and over again. You will be amazed as you witness not only the visual transformations as they age with grace, but the character transformations as well.

And just in case you did not know, “Biscuits are the ultimate southern comfort food, so fat and carbs don’t count!” Amen, Sister Vernadette and Roll Tide!

So, if you are tired of Old Man Winter and his cold rainy day blues, grab your BFFs, “put on your fat pants and embrace your Southern heritage” by making your way to the Haven; this show will warm your heart and soul.