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Queens Chronicle

Friends who swim together stay together

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Posted: Thursday, November 1, 2012 10:30 am

Who says they don’t write parts for actresses over a certain age?

“The Dixie Swim Club,” a bittersweet comedy about friendship from the united pens of Jesse Jones, Nicholas Hope and Jamie Wooten, provides juicy roles for an ensemble of no fewer than five mature women, and the Douglaston Community Theatre’s production has been blessed with a fine assortment of actresses who bring the play to life.

Watching the play might even call to mind such higher profile works as “Steel Magnolias” and “Same Time Next Year,” with a touch of “On Golden Pond” sentiment at the end.

But this is a character-driven vehicle — and what a bunch of characters they are.

There’s Dinah, a big-time lawyer whose personal life is filled with frustrations; the self-centered and needy Lexie, who is drawn to men — many of whom become her husband — like a moth to flame; Vernadette, who spends her life under a perennial dark cloud; Jeri Neal, a late entry into the world of motherhood; and Sheree, the mother hen of the group, whose life seems almost too good to be true.

The five met as members of a college swim team many years before the action begins, and have remained friends ever since, getting together for one weekend every August at a beach cottage on the Outer Banks of North Carolina. There they fight, make up, conjure memories of times gone by, and talk about life and all that it entails ... men, sex, marriage, parenting, divorce and aging.

Beginning 22 years after the characters’ college graduation, the play spans some 33 years, posing special challenges, which, in this case, are successfully met. In fact, as the evening progresses, the actresses seem to inhabit their respective characters more and more fully.

At times one might be reminded of a young Vicki Lawrence playing her mentor Carol Burnett’s mother on the latter’s old television show. By merely donning a wig and varying her physicality, Lawrence was totally convincing. The same is true on the DCT stage.

Under the attentive direction of Vincent Scott, each actress has ample opportunity to shine. Annette Daiell offers a sturdy portrayal as Sheree, the former team captain who still tries to set an example for the others. Kathleen Nadal is adorable as the 40-something with a toddler at home.

Barbara Mavro brings a no-nonsense attitude to Dinah, the least sentimental of the group. As the man-hungry Lexie, Karen Schlachter is engaging, tossing her feminine wiles around with abandon. In one of the rare moments when all five actresses are not on stage together, the two share a well-played moment of confidence.

Perhaps best of all is Adrianne Noroian, as the ever-suffering Vernadette. She is great throughout, and she is responsible for two of the play’s most memorable moments. The first comes unexpectedly when Vernadette delivers an emotional tirade on, of all things, biscuits. And near the play’s end, she is truly heart-wrenching as she questions the way she lived her life.

The welcoming seaside set and the apt sound effects add to the play’s atmosphere.

A couple of quibbles: the actresses assume Southern accents, which weren’t as consistent as they might have been, and, on Saturday night, a few lines were fumbled, perhaps the result of opening -night jitters.

References in the play to an approaching hurricane prove everything’s in the timing, as Sandy was about a day away from wreaking havoc on the city.

‘The Dixie Swim Club’

When: Nov. 2, 3, 9, and 10 at 8 p.m., Nov. 3 at 2 p.m.

Where: Zion Episcopal Church Parish HallChurch St. entrance off Douglaston Pkwy., Douglaston

Tickets: $15; $13 seniors and students with ID

(718) 482-3332

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