|Dixie Swim Club (L to R): Anne Craft is team captain “Sheree;” Erin Osgood is self-absorbed “Lexie;” Debra Rockey is the hard-luck “Vernadette;” Kandi Krumins is naïve ex-nun “Jeri Neal; and Julie Yolles is hard-boiled attorney “Dinah.”|
If you are lucky, you have made some friends in this life that you know will always be there for you. Perhaps you met in school, and maybe you don’t even see each other that often, but whenever you do you pick up right where you left off without missing a beat. These “best friends forever” friendships are what make life precious. You can tell your BFFs the truth, even when it hurts, and you can share in each other’s triumphs and tribulations.
The five women in the Dixie Swim Club portray characters that share such friendships. In fact, the actors have bonded so closely that their mutual admiration makes for a richer experience onstage. Two actors were kind enough to share some self-realizations and also some personal reflections about their fellow cast mates. Anne Craft said, “If you know anything about me, you know I am Sheree. She says the same things I say so I didn't have any trouble getting the tone or emphasis of her words. I have been accused of organizing the lives of other people. I have been guilty of making decisions for other people and deciding what was best without consulting them. I run a tight ship in the make-up room and have firm rules about the costumes. I have been labeled as ‘particular’ which I think is a nice way to say I'm bossy and a little mean. Some people are scared of me. I wish Sheree could be more sexy, or enjoy alcohol more, be a funnier character or perhaps be more naive. But she is pretty straight and plain. I see myself as having that same demeanor. I think Sheree is a likeable character and once you get to know her you see how genuine she is. The same could be said for me. It isn't necessarily easy playing a character so similar to yourself.”
Of her fellow actors, Anne observed that “Erin's character (Lexie) is very over the top at times, and she takes the spotlight whenever she can. Kandi's 77-year-old Jeri Neal is fabulous. She has the stiffness and shakiness of an elderly person. Debra is a true storyteller. Her tales of woe are meaningful and you can see that her character is sad about her life, but won't let that get her down. Julie found a routine and her professionalism shines through. She plays Dinah perfectly. I think as a whole, I have learned that each woman is truly dedicated to the craft and to this show. In Dixie I have learned that while my character is the least glamorous, I am a necessary character and need to be the straight gal in order for the other four to shine.”
Debra (a/k/a “Rockey”) notes that “each actor is cast perfectly to her persona. Erin is Sexy Lexie. Anne is extremely organized. Julie was born with an ego and to be a diva. Kandi is as authentic and whole as they come. I always see the comedic side of life.”
While Rockey has befriended the entire cast, she feels that her character Vernadette connects the best “with Lexie, because I am the anti-Lexie – the total opposite of all she is and stands for. I also connect with Jeri Neal, because of her vulnerability and honesty. Combine these characters behaviors and you have Vernie - she is as comfortable in her skin as Lexie is in hers. And Vern just tells it as it is – ‘what you see is what you get.’” Rockey is quick to note that “I also love Dinah and Sheree - as the team and the experience would not be the same without them.”
How does the real life Rockey relate to her character Vernadette? Rockey said, “I was never the cute girl, or the popular girl, or the rich girl growing up. I relied on my wit and boldness to get me through situations. No matter what is thrown in my path, I charge ahead. So ... my pre-30 days were all Vernadette-building. After 30, I figured out that this personality worked very well in the business world, so I let 'er rip!”