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A show that ‘grabs the heart’

Lake Benton Opera House and Calumet Players of Pipestone to come together for fall play

September 24, 2011
By Cindy Votruba , Marshall Independent

The actresses in the latest production of the Lake Benton Opera House are looking to give the audience a "healthy dose of laughter throughout the entire show."

"The Dixie Swim Club" will be presented at 7:30 p.m. Sept. 30-Oct. 1 and Oct. 7-8 and 2 p.m. Oct. 2 and 9 at the Lake Benton Opera House and at 7:30 p.m. Oct. 15-16 and 2 p.m. Oct. 16 at the Pipestone Performing Arts Center.

The show is being directed by Mark Wilmes of Tyler.

Article Photos

Photo courtesy of Mark Wilmes
Sylvia Newell, Kathy Wilmes, Beth Reams, Kathy Holck and Stacey Voit rehearse a scene from the upcoming production of “The Dixie Swim Club.”?The show will run in both Lake Benton and Pipestone.

This will be the first time the Lake Benton Opera House and the Calumet Players of Pipestone have joined together to do a show, Wilmes said.

"I got a call from the Calumet Players a few months ago, asking if we would be interested in doing the show jointly," Wilmes said. "I don't remember exactly what happened, but something fell through with their fall play."

Sylvia Newell of Lake Benton, who is the president of the Calumet Players, said the theater group thought it would be "kind of cool" to do a play together.

"We thought to make it a joint venture," she said. Newell was also cast as Vernadette in the show.

Wilmes and his wife, Kathy, who portrays Dinah in the production, went to see the show at a different community theater.

"Kathy and I saw the play at the Old Log Theatre last year and I laughed until I hurt," Wilmes said. "It was delightful. I immediately looked into getting a perusal script." The show was written by the same playwrights as "'Til Beth Do Us Part," which the Opera House performed this past spring, he said.

"The Dixie Swim Club" is about a group of five Southern women, who became friends while on their college swim team. The show follows them through 33 years, focusing on the times they meet at a beach cottage in North Carolina.

Although the show has hilarious dialogue, Wilmes said it is more than that.

"Nearly everyone can relate to the issues the five ladies deal with over the course of their respective lives with their relationships and their families," he said. "It is easy to get attached to the characters, and all laughs aside, the show surprisingly grabs your heart emotionally by the time the final scene plays out."

Newell, who has been in several of Pipestone's shows as well as being a director for a few, said people can relate to the characters.

"This is one of those shows where you know who these ladies are," Newell said. "There's some funny one-liners."

Beth Reams of Brookings, S.D., who plays Lexie, said the show is "absolutely hilarious."

"We are having a hard time keeping a straight face when we are on stage," Reams said. Other actresses include Stacey Voit of Ghent, who plays Sheree, and Kathy Holck of Ruthton, who portrays Jeri Neal.

Lexie is pampered and outspoken and has married and divorced a few times, Reams said.

"I have a lot of men troubles," Reams said. "She's a real fun character."

Wilmes said the five women in the roles have done a great job in becoming their characters.

"It has been a joy watching the evolution over the past few weeks," he said.

Newell said she is grateful for the chance to be in a show at Lake Benton as she's never performed on the Opera House stage.

"I'm very fortunate to get to work with Mark and these other actresses," Newell said. "They are so good and kind and welcoming. I was the 'odd man out.'"

As for Reams, she's never done a show at Pipestone, so she's looking forward for that chance.

"I've never performed in that venue, so that's really exciting for me," Reams said.

Wilmes said he's been involved with more than 40 shows in his life, all at the Opera House. He's excited to have a chance to work at the Pipestone Performing Arts Center for the first time.

"Our two organizations have had a great relationship over the years and it has been a pleasure to hook up with them for this production," Wilmes said.

And Newell hopes for another chance to be on stage at the Opera House in the future.

"It's been a fun experience, I might give it a go again sometime," Newell said.



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