Rooftop Productions presents ‘Sweet Delilah Swim Club’ with warmth and heart

A moving comedy about five women and their lifelong friendship.

Sweet Delilah Swim Club (formerly known as Sweet Dixie Swim Club) tells the story of five women and their lifelong friendship. Every August, the former swim team mates meet at the Sweet Delilah Cottage for an unforgettable getaway. Playwrights Jessie Jones, Nicholas Hope, and Jamie Wooten created four scenes in the same location to show their storied friendship, when the characters are 44, 49, 54, and 77. Rooftop Productions presents this comedy with warmth and tremendous heart. The actresses were guided by director Sallie Willows.

The perennial team captain is Sheree, played with precision by Terri Ritchey. She was the detail-oriented matriarch who cooked, cleaned, and organized the friends on their getaways — much to their chagrin. The career-driven Dinah Grayson is played by Leslie Anne Ross with dry wit and drink in hand. To avoid spoilers, I’ll simply say that her acting in the third scene was especially moving. Talya Conroy as Jerri Neal was energetic and playful. Her character brought many light-hearted and comedic moments through her naivete and bubbly persona.

LEFT: Jeri Neal (Talya Conroy) and Sheree (Terri Ritchey) ‘Girls, I’m in labor!’ RIGHT: Vernatte (Carolyn Wong) revealing the latest ‘joyful, news about her children. ‘The Sweet Delilah Swim Club’ photos by Kimberly Kemp.

The alluring Lexie was played by AnuRa Harrison. Harrison fully embodied the Blanche Devereaux–type character, from her shoulder shimmies to the double-tongued Southern lilt, where you never quite know if you’re being cared for or criticized — or perhaps both. Her comedic timing and facial expressions were delightful. I was also impressed by her tenderness in the third scene where we are introduced to a softer side of the boisterous vixen.

Another standout is Carolyn Corsano Wong as Vernadette Sims. The character leads a life of seemingly endless bad luck. Wong’s physicality and delivery were pitch-perfect, handling the humorous dialogue and absurd scenarios with ease. Vernadette’s character arc was sad at times but didn’t evoke pity — she’s made of strong stuff and has a sense of humor about her situations. The final scene was especially well acted by Wong and brought tears to my eyes, reminding me of my own family members who had similar experiences.

The Kellar Family Theater is the top floor of The ARTfactory in Old Town Manassas. The historic space was transformed into a vacation home by set designer Ted Ballard and set dresser Charlotte Steele. Although the play occurs in one place, each scene is in a different time, requiring the cast and crew to take a few minutes to change costumes and set dressings. The songs used for the pre-show and set changes were well chosen to keep the audience engaged while waiting.

LEFT: Lexie (AnuRa Harrison) laments the absence of family to Dinah (Leslie Ross) at a time like this. RIGHT: Vernadette explains her tardiness to Sweet Delilah Cottage and the unusual fashion choice. Vernedette (Carolyn Wong) and Sheree (Terri Ritchey). ‘The Sweet Delilah Swim Club’ photos by Kimberly Kemp.

This production was funny and heartfelt, a perfect show for fans of Southern-set witty comedies, like Designing Women and The Golden Girls.

Running Time: 90 minutes.

Sweet Delilah Swim Club plays two more times — July 23, 2022, at 7:30 pm and July 24 at 3 pm — presented by Rooftop Productions performing at Kellar Family Theater in The ARTfactory, 9419 Battle Street, Manassas, VA. Purchase tickets ($20–$25) online.

The Sweet Delilah Swim Club by Jessie Jones, Nicholas Hope and Jamie Wooten
Directed by Sallie Willows
Sheree:  Terri Ritchey
Dinah:  Leslie Ann Ross
Lexie:  AnuRa Harrison
Vernadette:  Carolyn Corsano Wong
Jeri Neal: Talya Conroy
COVID Safety:  Face coverings  are recommended.


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