A local production of “The Dixie Swim Club” is pushing a couple of Haines performers out of their comfort zones. The play will feature actress Hannah Reeves in her first non-musical role and the stage debut of newcomer Cheryl Mullins.
The play runs Dec. 7-9 at the Chilkat Center. Friday and Saturday shows start at 7:30 p.m. Sunday’s matinee starts at 2 p.m. Tickets are $12 for adults and $7 for children. Tickets are available at The Babbling Book or at the door.
Mullins, 58, said acting has been on her bucket list for a while. When director Tod Sebens encountered her at Mountain Market several weeks ago, he ran back out to his car, grabbed a script, shoved it into Mullins’ hands, and told her to give it a read and come to that night’s rehearsal. Mullins couldn’t say no.
“I just thought I’d like to try something different and put myself in a different situation, do something outside of my comfort zone. Because that’s how I grow,” Mullins said.
“The Dixie Swim Club,” a comedy written by Jessie Jones, Nicholas Hope and Jamie Wooten, follows five Southern women through 33 years of life’s ups and downs, including marriage, divorce, aging, and parenting.
Their friendship, started on a college swim team, is recharged every August when the women meet for a weekend on North Carolina’s Outer Banks to catch up, laugh, and discuss their lives. The play revolves around four weekends.
Mullins plays Vernadette Simms, a down-and-out public school teacher with a problematic home life who can only face her troubles through a lens of self-deprecation and acerbic humor.
“She has had a tough go of life. Things don’t work out quite the way...things just don’t work out for her. But she compensates and she deals with it by being kind of the smart aleck. She deals with life with humor; it’s sort of second nature to her,” Mullins said.
Reeves plays Jeri Neal McFeeley, a perky, ditzy, former nun who looks on the bright side of everything. Reeves, who has performed in musicals, said a stage play is very different than what she is used to.
“The dynamics are different. There’s no dancing. It seems more personal, I guess. You’re focused on the people you’re acting with, as opposed to the music,” Reeves said.
The play also represents a first for Sebens, directing his first comedy. Sebens said he gravitates toward darker, dramatic pieces but the play’s humor grabbed him.
“This will be a very mood-lightening play during the dark winter. It has a cast of nine women. There are no men in this play. And in my opinion, they’re a hoot to work with; they’re a lot more fun in general than men,” Sebens said.
Nine actors are playing the roles of five characters, with four of the actors playing aged versions of the characters.
Reeves and Mullins said the play’s takeaway messages transcend the genders of the characters.
“It’s very funny. Whether you’re a man or a woman, it’ll make you laugh until you cry. It’s all about friendship,” Reeves said.