Come Back to the Five and Dime Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean
With one weekend remaining (through June 9th) to see this production at NTC, you won’t want to miss (or misunderstand) a single scene in order to follow the story line and appreciate the intricate relations involved in keeping the memory of Jimmy Dean alive.
In this unusual original “reunion” script, conceived by Ed Graczyk, devotees of Jimmy Dean (August 10, 1928, to June 13, 2010), American country music singer, television host, actor, and businessman, to share memories and flashbacks of their youthful preoccupation with this iconic figure.
The production is chock-full of complications, confrontations (personal and collective), delusions, confusion, apparitions, and unwarranted conclusions. Kim Bromley has carefully directed a stellar cast in keeping the audience listening to every word and action to see and hear just how far some disciples of this iconic figure would go to keep alive the mystery of their connection to Jimmy Dean from their youth through adulthood.
Kristine Lowry, superb as the ultra-conservative five-and-dime shopkeeper, Juanita, who tries to keep the reunion guests on the straight and narrow as though they are in prohibition. Gwendolyn Phair and Angela Squire (Mona in her youth and as an adult, respectively) give excellent performances that quite vividly depict the innocence of youthful infatuation versus the wishful-thinking of maturity.
Claire Fogarty and Margot Biehle (Sissy in her youth and as an adult, respectively) show excellence in great transformation from sweetness to vixen and roller-queen delusions — with some very funny lines.
Edna (Lindsay John) is the only one who obviously lost her virginity but never her pure sense of vulnerability in friendship. Karen Clancy performs the role of Stella with just the right balance of realism and idealism. Ben Simpson is excellent as the youthful and sincere Joe, unwilling to compromise his freedom.
The set for the five and dime store and fountain is absolute perfection! Kudos to Set Designer/ Builder, Mark Clark; Scenic Artist, Kim Bromley; Scene Painters, Karen Clancy and Pat Shea; Properties Designer, Cindy Morris; Specialty Props and Graphics by David Carson.
Stage Manager Diane Pickell-Gore did a masterful job keeping the stage in recognizable order – from props to the fountain furniture!
The Lighting is excellent as designed by Frank Sarubbi and executed perfectly by Electric Bill, Frank Sarubbi, Jr., Hunter Ward, Marlyn Ilzdebski, and Halina.
Costuming is outstanding as designed by Janice Deneau, supported by Mary Weinberg and Marie Meier.
The one unfortunate omission in the Sound Design would be headsets for those in the audience who have difficulty hearing cast interactions; otherwise, the Sound Design by Bruce Viera, which includes 50s recordings by Doris Day, Tennessee Ernie Ford, and later recording by Paul Anka, is marvelous.
By Elle Alexa Simon with Flora Lynn Isaacson, Critic for the San Francisco Bay Area Theater Critics Circle.
Performances take place at the home of Novato Theater Company, 5420 Nave Drive, Novato. Reserve seats for these last few performances by telephone at 415/883-4498. Performances will be at 8:00 pm on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, as well as the 2pm Matinee performance on Sunday, June 9th.
This being the end of the NTC 2018-2019 Season, coming up next at NTC, September 5 through 29, 2019, will be The Humans by Steven Karam and directed by Pat Nims.