SPRINGFIELD, Vt. – Opening night, Friday, Nov. 4, 2022, brought a sizable and energetic audience to the Springfield Community Players Studio Theater on South Street. The laughs began immediately as the stage lights came up on Sheree, played by retired Springfield music teacher Cindy Hughes, energetically dancing around a beach cottage to upbeat music.
Beyond the set windows, sand dunes lead to the ocean and a sign hangs on the wall that reads, “Sweet Delilah Cottage.” Shaking her khaki clad hips, Sheree unpacks a cooler and some bags of groceries, and doesn’t notice when a second woman enters. The pampered Lexie, portrayed by Kay Burge, wears a thin, gauzy summer dress and platform sandals. She stands watching her friend for a moment, then pulls a camera from her bag and snaps a picture.
Sheree spins around. “Lexie!” she admonishes. “You can’t sneak up and take a picture of someone when they think no one is watching!”
Laughing, Lexie responds, “Yeah, well that’s what my second ex-husband said, but it was the look of surprise on his assistant’s face that got me the big divorce settlement, wasn’t it?”
Through those first moments, playwrights Jessie Jones, Nicholas Hope, and Jamie Wooten introduce the audience to the first two of five audacious women whose friendship began on their college swim team, and who meet each August at the same beach cottage on South Carolina’s Outer Banks to catch up and reconnect over cocktails and skinny dipping in the ocean. The story focuses on four of those occasions and spans a period of 33 years.
The other cast members are Sara Vitale, playing the role of Dinah, a hard-edged lawyer; Fran Kemp, as the unlucky Vernadette; and Ashlee White, who plays Jeri Neal, also called Sister Mary Esther, the nun who arrives last to the cottage with a surprise no one predicted.
Under the direction of longtime Springfield Community Players director, actor, and member Donald Gray, this funny, poignant, heartwarming show is a wonderful expression of the strength of female friendship. The lively cast does an excellent job conveying the connection shared by the friends, and presents an entertaining portrayal of five distinctly different Southern women, forever bonded, who rely on one another for advice, comic relief, and brutal honesty to get through life’s many challenges.
Marking the end of the 2022 season, the final two performances of The Sweet Delilah Swim Club will be Friday and Saturday, Nov. 11 and 12.