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'Dixie Swim Club' spans lifetime of changes

Sarah Einerson, a former Chief Theater box office worker, returns to the Chief as one of the five women in "Dixie Swim Club." Patt Rall | Bemidji Pioneer

BEMIDJI - Bemidji actor and executive director of Churches United, Sarah Einerson, is one of the gals in the "Dixie Swim Club," which opened Wednesday at the Paul Bunyan Playhouse.

Einerson captured the theater scene in Bemidji when she arrived from Texas and auditioned for a part in Bemidji Community Theater's "My Fair Lady" a few years ago. Since that first foray into the Bemidji theater scene, Einerson joined the ensemble casts of Saarens Productions and the Mask and Rose Women's Theater Collective, along with recurring roles in other BCT productions.

"The local shows have four- to six-week rehearsal periods," said Einerson. "At PBP we come having prepared ahead of time and basically have to be up and going within nine days. It's quite a challenge."

Einerson went on to talk about the other actors in this show and how she recognized their characters on sight, primarily because the casting was so spot-on. They first met at an informal gathering the day before rehearsals began.

This play, penned by some of the writers for "The Golden Girls," a long-lasting TV series, lacks the acerbic overtones. The Dixie gals are funny in a lighthearted, I-get-your-quirks-and-I-got-your-back way. The jabs are mellow and sometimes philosophical but never mean. The friends even go so far as to pretend to eat the inedible snacks prepared by the health food advocate in the group. She doesn't catch on for years that they are just pretending to like them.

It is a story of friendships that last from being on their college swim club to the autumn of their lives. Einerson's character, Vernadette, is the least successful in her personal life and career and we see the greatest change in her during the period covered; 22 years after graduation to their late 70s. The gals meet for a weekend every August in a cabin located on the Outer Banks of North Carolina.

They protect and defend each other from the vicissitudes of life: those well-lived, orderly and those crafted by poor decisions.

And it's done in an atmosphere of caring and mutual acceptance of personality differences found in long-term relationships, be they male or female. It is said that men are not emotionally capable of communicating the way women do. That is untrue; it is just the way they relate to each other. In short, this is not a "chick" story for it has all the humor, banter and good will found among friends, not acquaintances.