Tuesday, January 23, 2018
Stage

'Dixie Swim Club' opens Thursday at Stage West

SPRING HILL — The Forum at Stage West Community Playhouse concludes its 2013-14 season of plays (there's one more musical on the Main Stage in May) with one tailor-made for a core audience that appreciates the fact that people do get older: The Dixie Swim Club.

Often called a mix of Steel Magnolias and Same Time, Next Year, it's about five women who were together on their college swim team and since graduation have gotten together at a North Carolina beach cottage every summer to catch up on what's going on in each other's lives.

Writers Jessie Jones, Nicholas Hope and Jamie Wooten drop in on the women 22 years after graduation, five years after that, then another five years later, with the last scene still 25 years later, when the women are approaching age 80.

Their lives have gone in all directions, but their affection for each other has remained steady, though often challenged.

"We all have friends who drive us crazy, but we love them anyway," said Andrea Gleason, who is directing the show. "(These women) have a warm and moving relationship with each other."

Gleason's cast includes four Stage West veterans, including multi-HAMI winners Betsy Glasson (Vivian in Love, Sex and the IRS) and Cheryl Roberts (Gen. Cartwright in Guys and Dolls), as well as Jeanene McLean (Diana in Lend Me a Tenor), Rose DeAngelo (Charmaine in Sex Please, We're 60) and Stage West newcomer Ellen Hutt, a retired teacher from Michigan with a long list of theatrical credits.

Ms. Roberts plays Lexie, "the one with a boob job and face lift," Ms. Gleason said. Ms. DeAngelo is Sharee, "the swim team captain back in the day (who) still bosses everybody around."

Ms. Glasson plays Jeri Neal. "She's sweet, with a secret, but I won't tell that and ruin it for the audience," Ms. Gleason said.

Vernadette (Ms. Hutt) has perhaps led the most melodramatic life. "Her life has been one long country song — married to a jerk, her kids are a mess, but she persists," Ms. Gleason said.

The seemingly toughest is Dinah (Ms. McLean). "She's the attorney and has a bit of a cynical side to her. She is tough, until real life interferes."

The cast has been a joy to work with, Ms. Gleason said.

"They have bonded," she said.

Shortly after open auditions, and long before formal rehearsals, the five women got together to read lines and become comfortable with the script, she said.

A challenge to the director and crew is "aging" the cast members from age 44 to age 79.

"Jamie Wooten (also) wrote The Golden Girls for television," Ms. Gleason said.

For TV, he could stop the cameras to change looks and sets, a luxury live theater doesn't have.

"Time passage is shown by costumes — the style of the times — and wigs, but mainly with dialogue," Ms. Gleason said.

At the beginning of each scene, one or more of the characters mentions their ages or some other reference point to let the audience know how long it's been since the last scene.

The play "is a comedy, but, so far, everybody who has seen it has cried at the end," Ms. Gleason said. "It's suitable for ages middle school and up. It's not 'R' rated, not 'X' rated, but kids would be bored" by the story itself.

"The first weekend is pretty much sold out, but the second weekend is Easter weekend, so ticket sales so far have been light," Ms. Gleason said.

Comments
The Diary of Anne Frank opens at Stage West

The Diary of Anne Frank opens at Stage West

Anne Frank became one of the most notable victims of the Holocaust after the publishing of her diary, which chronicled more than two years of the Jewish teen’s life in hiding in Nazi-occupied Amsterdam during World War II. Her story will come to life...
Updated: 3 hours ago

Pasco Schools arts centers host Always ... Patsy Cline

The Pasco Schools Centers for the Arts open their doors to the community this weekend with three performances of Always ... Patsy Cline on the Wesley Chapel High and River Ridge High school campuses.The musical play features several of Cline’s hits, ...
Published: 01/23/18
Jobsite’s ‘The Tempest’ balances reverence and irreverence in a busy Shakespeare tribute

Jobsite’s ‘The Tempest’ balances reverence and irreverence in a busy Shakespeare tribute

TAMPA — The Tempest begins with shadow play, a ship tossed on high seas. Projected onto a backdrop, the shadow of that ship looks proportionate to the waves that rock it. You see this, even as a daemonic spirit holds a toy replica in her hand, the ac...
Published: 01/22/18
Orchestra sets off fireworks in the brassy ‘Sinfonietta’

Orchestra sets off fireworks in the brassy ‘Sinfonietta’

TAMPA — Many times during Sinfonietta, Leoš Janácek’s notoriously difficult but joyous work, it was impossible for a regular patron of the Florida Orchestra to escape this observation: They have never sounded quite like this.This isn’t to say musicia...
Published: 01/20/18
‘Mike Hammer - Encore for Murder’ serves up hard-boiled 1950s fare with a healthy side of wit

‘Mike Hammer - Encore for Murder’ serves up hard-boiled 1950s fare with a healthy side of wit

CLEARWATER — From the moment the title character takes center stage, Mike Hammer — Encore for Murder is sold. Rarely does one actor own an entire production the way Gary Sandy owns this world premiere, and it’s a pleasure at watch, in large measure t...
Published: 01/19/18
Inside American Stage’s plan to offer free or reduced admission to young people

Inside American Stage’s plan to offer free or reduced admission to young people

ST. PETERSBURG An air compressor did most of the talking as the small crew stapled down flooring to the stage. A master carpenter kept unskilled but eager workers on track, telling them where to line up edges. An astringent smell of glue permeated t...
Published: 01/18/18
What’s on stage this week: Riverdance, ‘Mike Hammer,’ ‘The Tempest’

What’s on stage this week: Riverdance, ‘Mike Hammer,’ ‘The Tempest’

RIVERDANCE AT 20: CIARA SEXTONShe’s a former world champion in Irish dance, and now Ciara Sexton, center, is leading Riverdance in Tampa. A lead dancer and soloist with the troupe, Sexton said she has felt comfortable touring the states."What really ...
Published: 01/17/18
Steve Martin and Martin Short talk touring together and ‘newfangled old-fashioned’ variety show

Steve Martin and Martin Short talk touring together and ‘newfangled old-fashioned’ variety show

It’s barely been a year since Steve Martin and Martin Short last brought their roadshow to town. But there was never a doubt in their minds they’d be back."We thought — and I seriously mean this — we’ve got to play Florida more." Martin said in a pho...
Published: 01/17/18
Tampa Rep’s ‘Gnit’ is a sharp commentary on narcissism in the age of selfies

Tampa Rep’s ‘Gnit’ is a sharp commentary on narcissism in the age of selfies

By JULIE GARISTOTimes CorrespondentTAMPA — Tampa Repertory Theatre’s Gnit strikes gold for theatergoers who appreciate deadpan wit, clever wordplay and incisive commentary on the human condition.First produced in 2013, the retread of a Scandinavian c...
Published: 01/16/18
Review: Show Palace’s Pippin daring and dangerous

Review: Show Palace’s Pippin daring and dangerous

HUDSON —If you saw the musical Pippin when it first hit Broadway in 1972, or a high school drama club version, or even a touring company rendition a decade ago, it’s not exactly the Pippin you’ll see if you’re wise enough to go see the spectacular mo...
Published: 01/15/18
Updated: 01/18/18