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Dive in the Water’s Fine – The Dixie Swim Club at Port City Playhouse

Jordan Wright
February 25, 2012
Special to The Alexandria Times

Tina Anderson, Kacie Greenwood, and Gayle Grimes - Photo Credit Eddie Page

Tina Anderson, Kacie Greenwood and Gayle Grimes - photo credit Eddie Page

For whatever reason the thought of attending a class reunion can turn even the most sensible woman into a bundle of nerves.  Will an old flame turn up?  Can I lose 10 pounds in two weeks?  What will I wear?  And should I book a hair and Botox appointment on the same day?  Mercifully none of these options are considered by The Dixie Swim Club, whose reunion is an all-girl affair in this rollicking bit of sitcom froth from Port City Playhouse.  Faithfully returning to a modest cottage on North Carolina’s Outer Banks, five former swim team members make an annual pilgrimage to recapture their glory days.  And though one of the ladies prefers to vamp for the men at the fruit stand, swapping tattoo views for blueberries, the women are mostly there to rekindle their friendships.

Dixie Swim Club - Anderson, Hayes. Grimes, Mitchell & Greenwood - Photo credit Eddie PageDixie Swim Club - Anderson, Hayes. Grimes, Mitchell & Greenwood - Photo credit Eddie Page

Anderson, Hayes. Grimes, Mitchell & Greenwood - photo credit Eddie Page

Sheree Hollinger (Tina Anderson) is the group’s ex officio life coach, a no-nonsense drill sergeant cum cheerleader with a knack for organizing and a penchant for bizarre health food munchies, much to the horror of Lexie Richards (Barbara Hayes), an endearing mantrap dripping with Southern charm and sass who calls Sheree’s seaweed canapés of mung bean paste, goji berries and heron oil, “regurgitated ferret food.”  A self-acknowledged proponent of three-year marriages and facelifts, she cycles through spouses like a washing machine.  “The trouble with husbands,” she admonishes, “is they always say they’ll die for you…but they never do!”  Her counterpoint, Dinah Grayson (Kacie Greenwood), a spine-straight Atlanta corporate lawyer, prefers the boardroom to the bedroom and martinis to men.

Jeri Neal McFeeley (Laura Champe Mitchell), who “genuflects at the sight of Miracle Whip”, is a nun reaching out for a second chance at life outside the convent.  Her polar opposite is the wisecracking Vernadette Simms (Gayle Nichols-Grimes), an accident-prone perpetually unemployed housewife.  “Vern” reports on her children’s regular incarcerations and sermonizes on the joys of biscuit baking.

Dixie Swim Club - Greenwood & Hayes - Photo credit Eddie Page

Greenwood and Hayes - photo credit Eddie Page

The humorous yet sweetly sentimental play, by the veteran comedy writing team of Jessie Jones, Nicholas Hope and Jamie Wooten (you’ll love the comic slugfest if you’re a fan of Wooten’s long-running series, The Golden Girls), covers three decades of the women’s personal triumphs and failures marking time with cocktail-fueled weekends of swill-and-tell.

The entire cast is up for the snappy repartee with Nichols-Grimes stealing the show with her deadpan delivery .  Director Eddie Page, a self-confessed veteran of “guys” weekends at Nags Head, handily taps into the zeitgeist to achieve an evening that goes down like a well chilled martini served straight up.

Dixie Swim Club - Anderson, Grimes, Greenwood & Hayes - Photo credit Dixie Swim Club - Greenwood & Hayes - Photo credit Eddie Page

Anderson, Grimes, Greenwood and Hayes - photo credit Eddie Page

Port City Playhouse through March 10th at The Lab Studio Theatre at Convergence, 1819 North Quaker Lane, Alexandria, VA 22302.  For tickets and information visit

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