“The Dixie Swim Club” at The Dio is sparkling fun (Review)


The Dixie Swim Club, by Jones Hope Wooten is the current terrific offering at The Dio in Pinckney.  What, you say? You’ve never heard of Jones Hope Wooten?  Well, Jessie Jones, Nicholas Hope, and Jamie Wooten are only one of the most produced play-writing teams in America today — and not only that, they are apparently nice people too, as they called Steve DeBruyne and Matthew Tomich at The Dio to wish them luck on their opening this week.

Let me preface this by saying, I love sitcoms — and the best current sitcom is not on TV, it’s at The Dio. And its no wonder, since the playwriting team has prolific television writing credits, including Wooten’s long-running The Golden Girls, and The Five Mrs. Buchanans. It comes as no surprise then that The Dixie Swim Club plays as a mash-up of Steel Magnolias, Designing Women, and The Golden Girls.

Five best friends from college (they were on the swim team) meet up every year at a cottage on North Carolina’s Outer Banks for a not-specificed period of time each summer (it appears to be about 22 minutes per visit – not unlike the actual minutes of a half-hour sitcom). Each of the 4 scenes contains real laugh-out-loud moments, larger-than-life yet still relatable characters, and a “mini-drama”. Its a little like watching four episodes of your favorite tv show back to back. And its a very good tv show at that.

Steve DeBruyne directs a very assured five-women ensemble cast. Sonja Marquis is the “controlling one”; Amy Morrisey is the “carreer-driven one”; Sarah Burcon is the “flirty one”; Laura Mandernack is the “super-ego one”; and Brenda Lane is the “poor but funny one”.  Think Dorothy, Rose, Blanch, and Sophia….with Julia Sugarbaker mixed in as a special guest star.

All five of the women are terrific in their roles, and the ensemble work here sparkles. Its impossible to point out anyone without mentioning all five — and their interactions feel real, comfortable, and plausible (sort of, in a sitcom sort of way). Its not hard to predict who will end up where 28 years down the road — and there is a bit of pathos thrown in for the final scene that solidifies the “Steel Magnolias” angle…but its a sparkling confection that goes down easily and knows its target market well (women over 40) but which is assessable to husbands, friends, and youngsters as well. Give it a slight PG-rating, though only just for some frank sexual talk.

The show is highly entertaining, and it is no wonder that it has been sweeping the country, produced nation-wide at regional, community, and dinner theaters. It goes down remarkably well after Chef Jarod’s delicious Chicken and Beef Kabobs. Quite frankly, I thought it was all-around terrific (both comedy and kabobs!)

Among many favorite moments, mine occurred during a discussion of none of the ladies getting any younger over the years and Mandernack’s assuring explanation of Noah living to the ripe old age of 950…and of course, “nobody lives to be 950…anymore…”

The Dixie Swim Club continues through July 6th at The Dio, 177 E Main Street, Pinckney, MI 48169. 517-672-6009 — tickets also at http://www.diotheatre.com

Directed by Steve DeBruyne, Lighting, Sound, Stage Management and Set Design by Matthew Tomich, Costumes, Hair, and Makeup Design by Thalia Schramm, Props by Eileen Obradovich, Meal by Chef Jarod.


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