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  1. Stage

College pals keep in touch as 'Dixie Swim Club' opens at Richey Suncoast

Fans of The Golden Girls, Steel Magnolias, Same Time, Next Year and good laughs will likely become fans of The Dixie Swim Club, the comedy playing at Richey Suncoast Theatre Thursday and weekends through Nov. 2.

It's about five women who starred on their college swim team together decades ago, but have remained friends through the years, despite living far apart and in different worlds. The women meet once a year for a week in a secluded cottage on North Carolina's Outer Banks, free of husbands, kids and careers. They catch up on each other's lives, triumphs and tribulations, giving support when it's needed and raised eyebrows when it isn't sought.

The show's four scenes catch the reunions 22 years after graduation, five years later, five years after that, and, finally, when they're all age 77 and ready to look back over their lives. It's filled with laugh lines and not a few poignant moments — just like life itself.

The team captain, Sheree (Christine Stoll, Maureen the Maid in Hotbed Hotel), is determined to stay in charge, not only of her own life, but the lives of all the others, never mind that her "instructions" aren't always welcomed. Lexie (Natalie Pozdol, Debbie in The Amorous Ambassador) is much married — four times and counting — and doggedly holding onto her youth by whatever means at hand.

The group comedian is Dinah (Dee Curran, Charlie in Pajama Game), an overachieving, materialistic attorney who makes no secret of her priorities. The group darling is Sister Mary Esther (Emily Nettnin), who was known as Jeri Neal back in college days and is simply full of surprises.

Last, and least in her own eyes, is Vernadette (Heather Clark, Mae in Pajama Game, Lois in The Sensuous Senator), whose bad marriage, disappointing kids and overall rotten luck haven't dampened her spirits.

The show would be rated "G," but it will probably be most appreciated by those who have had time to do some living and can therefore recognize what these women have gone through and what they are facing. And even though it's an all-female cast, it would appeal to any male who has ever had a significant female in his life, whether it be mother, daughter, wife, girlfriend or pal.