Exploring the power and humour of enduring friendship
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Exploring the power and humour of enduring friendship

Growing through life is hard, but going through it with friends makes all the difference, especially if you can laugh along the way. That’s the point of the latest play from Drayton Entertainment, The Sweet Delilah Swim Club, on stage at the St. Jacobs Country Playhouse until August 13.

The story follows five friends who met on their college swim team over the span of 40 years. Every year they go away to a cottage together in North Carolina for a long weekend.

“(The story) explores their lives, their loves, their losses, explores ageism and husbands and children and it’s hilariously funny,” said director Sheila McCarthy. “It’s just a wonderful study of five very different women in North Carolina who sort of take off their bras for a long weekend every August and explore each other’s lives.

“It’s super funny and really moving and it’s about friendship. And I think that people will just love it,” she said.

McCarthy is traditionally an actress, and says she’s been involved in show business since she was five years old. She gained attention for her role in I’ve Heard the Mermaids Singing and is well known for television’s Little Mosque on the Prairie, for which she was nominated for a Gemini award. She can currently be seen in the Netflix superhero series The Umbrella Academy.

She recently started directing and will make her directorial debut with the Drayton Festival with this production.

On a personal level, McCarthy relates to how the story portrays loss.

“Well, you know, we deal with a lot of loss in this show over the 40 years. So, they go through so many different aspects of their lives from the time that they’re in their early 40s to their late 70s. So you know, the loss. I lost my first husband, many years ago, an actor, Peter Donaldson of the Stratford Festival. So all of that comes to the surface and I like to share those stories because everyone has experienced loss,” she said. “I think everybody can relate to that. But it’s all told in an enormously funny way.”

She’s especially proud of the cast she assembled for the production. “I came up with five incredibly seasoned veteran actresses who are so happy to be back on stage as well.”

Marcia Tratt plays Sheree Hollinger, a hyper-organized health nut with a fear of getting older. Barbara Fulton plays lawyer Dinah Grayson, the group’s wise-cracking cynic. Cara Hunter takes on the role of Southern Belle event planner Lexie Richards. Karen Wood plays eager-to-please nun Jeri Neal McFeeley. Mary Pitt is school teacher Vernadette Simms.

McCarthy says she and the cast and crew are eager and excited to present the show, which had previously been scheduled to run before the pandemic, but was put on hold.

“Our careers really took a dive and everyone’s very grateful to be back out there doing it,” she said of the pandemic lockdowns that hit the entertainment business particularly hard. “So it’s been a real love fest to be back.”

She says she’s excited and proud to welcome people back into the theatre for the show.

“Just know that you’re going to come, you’re going to sit in this audience and watch The Sweet Delilah Swim Club, and you’re going to see yourself up on stage. You’re going to go, ‘Oh, my God, my girlfriends and I do the exact same thing!’ I think that everybody will relate to this play on all kinds of levels of humanity and experience and laughter and crying. And I really hope that people can come away from this just really saying to themselves, ‘I know those women.’”

“The relatable characters and witty banter provide a fresh perspective on the journey through life, and the value of friendship,” said artistic director Alex Mustakas of the show.

The Drayton Entertainment production of The Sweet Delilah Swim Club is now on stage at the St. Jacobs Country Playhouse until August 13 before moving to the Huron Country Playhouse for a run from August 18 to September 4. Tickets are $53 ($32 for youth under 20), available any at the box office (519-747-7788) or toll free at 1-855-drayton (372-9866), or online at www.draytonentertainment.com.

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