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Drama, humor abound in GEP’s latest production

LUVERNE -- A quintet of Luverne women sound as though they've been plucked from the south for the latest Green Earth Players production, "Dixie Swim Club," set to take the stage of the Palace Theatre next week.

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The cast of the Green Earth Players' latest production, "Dixie Swim Club," includes Colette Hansen (clockwise from lower left), Terri Ebert, Elaine Hansen, Manda Steensma and DJ Luethje. (Julie Buntjer / Daily Globe)

LUVERNE - A quintet of Luverne women sound as though they’ve been plucked from the south for the latest Green Earth Players production, “Dixie Swim Club,” set to take the stage of the Palace Theatre next week.

Perhaps it’s because they’ve had a special speech therapist in Georgia native Mary Carroll assisting them at nightly practices in dialog and dialect to hone their southern drawl.

Set along the coast of North Carolina’s Outer Banks, the five members of the Dixie Swim Club of Pemberton College gather for their annual distraction-free weekend to recharge their friendship. There are a lot of laughs, much drama and an occasional tear shed as they reminisce.

Written by Jessie Jones, Nicholas Hope and Jamie Wooten, the cast includes Lexie, portrayed by Manda Steensma, who clings to her youth through the benefits of cosmetic surgery. As director Sue Sandbulte says, she’s been been nipped, tucked, sucked and lifted.

Dinah, played by Elaine Hansen, is a lawyer who carries her business persona - and a drinking problem - on vacation.

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Once a team captain and always a team captain is Sherree, portrayed by Terri Ebert. Sherree reserves the cabin each year and keeps everyone in line and on schedule. Then there’s Vernadette, portrayed by DJ Luethje, the dubbed “comic relief” of the show. She’s always a day late and a dollar short - and always recovering from an injury of some sort.

Colette Hansen rounds out the cast as Jeri Neal, the Dixie Swim Club member who always portrays an air of innocence.

The five women cast in the production are no strangers to the Green Earth Players. Colette Hansen was in her first production in 1983, Ebert joined the GEP in 1985, Luethje came on board in 2002, and Steensma and Elaine Hansen are each in their fourth production.

“Something that I was concerned about when I cast the play was if they could get along - if they could bond like true friends,” said Sandbulte. “They have bonded beyond what I expected.”

“This is the best play - we’ve had so much fun,” echoed Ebert. “We’ve become good friends really fast.”

Colette Hansen was eager to be a part of the play because of the cast of five women, noting it’s an opportunity for bonding.

“I could hardly wait for tryouts and I could hardly wait for the call from Sue,” she said. “I never dread going to play practice.”

“We don’t know what we’re going to do when it’s over,” Sandbulte added. “I’m having the time of my life.”

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Elaine Hansen, meanwhile, said being on stage “one more time” was on her bucket list and she couldn’t think of a better production to be involved in.

“You were the first person that came to mind when I thought of a lawyer,” shared Sandbulte.

Assisting Sandbulte in directing the play is Hayley Koeritz.

The troupe has been in rehearsal since Jan. 3 and is gearing up for opening night March 24. Performances are 7:30 p.m. March 24, 25, 31 and April 1, with 2 p.m. matinees on Sundays March 26 and April 2. Doors open one-half hour before each performance.

For the first time this year, wine and beer will be available for purchase during the show.

“Bring your bestie or favorite someone and enjoy your favorite beer or wine,” Sandbulte encouraged.”We have some great, fun older music before the show starts so you can sit back and just enjoy.”

Tickets for Dixie Swim Club are available through the Palace Theatre box office, (507) 283-4339.

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Julie Buntjer became editor of The Globe in July 2021, after working as a beat reporter at the Worthington newspaper since December 2003. She has a bachelor's degree in agriculture journalism from South Dakota State University.
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