The Dixie Swim Club

Now playing at Theatre Charlotte, donna scott productions presents The Dixie Swim Club, which “follows five college friends on their annual beach trip to the Outer Banks of North Carolina and spans over 30 years of their friendship together.”

I saw the show over the weekend, and while I expected it to be cute, I was totally unprepared for how charming and funny it would be.

Throughout the course of the play, the audience observes these five ladies reuniting year after year and catching up on each other’s lives. The Theatre Charlotte website sums it up pretty nicely:

“As their lives unfold and the years pass, these women increasingly rely on one another, through advice and raucous repartee, to get through the challenges (men, sex, marriage, parenting, divorce, and aging) that life flings at them.”

All five performers — Tonya Bludsworth, Stephanie Dipaolo, Chandler McIntyre, Donna Scott and Sheila Snow Proctor — did an excellent job. The cast showed great chemistry together, easily believable as five girls who grow up together. Anyone who’s had a lifelong friend will relate to the way these ladies interact, friendly and playful, sometimes biting and bitchy, but ultimately there for each other.

Though I enjoyed all of them, I do have to give special mention to two stand-outs among the quintet:

Donna Scott was terrific as the ditzy and man-crazed Lexie (and who, of course, also produced the show.) Her shallow self-centered narcissism is somehow charming, as if you’d been friends with Lexie for decades and you roll your eyes playfully when her bad-girl behavior manifests. (And — SPOILER ALERT — her “surgical” transformation in Act Two is stunning.)

And Sheila Snow Proctor was absolutely phenomenal as Vernadette. Her delivery, dry and somewhat exasperated, was priceless. You can’t help but laugh, shaking your head in amazement, as bad luck follows this poor woman around. Her character’s many misfortunes and unshakeable resilience (some might say indifference) against all odds, with sour humor keeping her afloat, are unforgettable. Each time she opens her mouth, she steals the scene.

Don’t get me wrong — the other three ladies were delightful as well. There’s not a mediocre performance in the cast. Perhaps part of my fascination with these two in particular stems from having seen each of them in other very memorable roles here in Charlotte, so I’m amazed by how different they are in this production. But being nearly unrecognizable in different roles is the mark of a true actor, right?

The Dixie Swim Club is heartwarming and hysterical. If you’re going to be in Charlotte over the next couple of weeks, make time to go see it.

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