New Box in the Wood play going swimmingly

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Leader Photo by Lee Pulaski Lexie, right, played by Jodi Angeli, has it out with her swim captain, Sheree, played by Mielke newcomer Jennifer Blake, during a rehearsal for “The Dixie Swim Club” Sunday afternoon. The show follows the lives of five Southern women years after they swam together on a college team.

Leader Photo by Lee Pulaski Mary Madsen, who plays Dinah, pours herself a drink in one of the scenes for “The Dixie Swim Club.” The show opens April 26.

The Box in the Wood Theatre Guild is jumping in the deep end with its latest production, “The Dixie Swim Club.”

The show will premiere April 25, with six performances through May 4. All performances will be at the Mielke Arts Center, N5649 Airport Road, Shawano.

The play, written by Nicholas Hope, Jamie Wooten and Jessie Jones, focuses on five Southern women who were part of a college swim team in their youth. It takes the audience on a 33-year trip in the course of two hours as the women reunite several times to talk about the course their lives have taken and deal with hardships.

Sheree, the team captain, tries to maintain a perfect life, much to her teammates’ chagrin at times. Lexie tries to hold on to her youth as long as possible, while Dinah deals with being a successful attorney. Vernadette handles her existence with an acerbic tongue, and Jeri Neal leaves the life of a nun behind to become a mother late in life.

The swimming theme fits in well for Ann Van Grinsven, who had to take on the directorial reins of the all-female show after Miriam Nelson bowed out due to other commitments. It is the first time Van Grinsven has directed since 2010.

It was the smaller cast and the fact that Van Grinsven knew most of the cast from her many years with Box in the Wood that convinced her to take charge .

“They know how to take direction, and they have ideas of their own,” Van Grinsven said.

The only new member of the Mielke family is Jennifer Blake, who plays Sheree. Blake is an accomplished actor and director but has never performed with Box in the Wood.

Also part of the cast are Mary Madsen as Dinah, Sandra Wehmeyer as Vernadette, Denise Riley as Jeri Neal, and Jodi Angeli as Lexie.

The play is a true ensemble piece, with each part relatively the same in size. Van Grinsven noted the type of play will help the actresses to help each other and take equal ownership in the show’s success.

“You might know this backwards and forwards, but you might draw a blank,” Van Grinsven said. “Then one of the other cast members can even throw a question at you and get you back into your lines. It’s live theater.”

The cast will “age” over the course of the play, Van Grinsven said.

“(The audience) will see in other ways besides physically,” she said. “Some of the cast are buying wigs to get into the part.”

“The Dixie Swim Club” will appeal to women the most, but Van Grinsven believes the men will understand the humor, as well. Young children probably will not, however, which is why Van Grinsven is recommending that only patrons ages 14 and above attend the show.

“There’s nothing obscene or anything like that, no language,” she said. “The kids won’t get it. It’ll be funny to everybody else.”

AT A GLANCE

WHAT: “The Dixie Swim Club” presented by the Box in the Wood Theatre Guild

WHEN: 7 p.m. April 25-26 and May 2-3, 2 p.m. April 27 and May 4

WHERE: Mielke Arts Center, N5649 Airport Road, Shawano

TICKETS: $10 adults, $5 students. Tickets may be purchased at the Shawano Country Chamber of Commerce, Wittenberg Enterprise and Clintonville Chronicle, and online at www.brownpapertickets.com.

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