Take a step back in time with Stage Coach Players as the group returns to producing live theatre for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic hit. In Ed Graczyk’s Come Back To the 5 & Dime, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean, we participate in the 1975 reunion of the James Dean fan club known as “The Disciples of Jimmy Dean,” twenty years after the actor’s death. The production starts Stage Coach Players’ 75th season in DeKalb.
The period drama is directed by David W. Booth who last directed the comedy $38,000 For a Friendly Face several years ago. Darlene Hillman is assistant director. The ensemble cast includes Jan Booth, Leigh Foulk, Lulu Grey, Izzy Sester, Mandi Sester, Gabriela Synowiec, Wendy Tritt, Amy Whelan, Liam Whelan.
The story, told partly in flashbacks, is about a group of friends who meet at a five-and-dime store in rural Texas. The reunion is meant to celebrate the life and death of the famous actor James Dean, but as they reminisce, the reunion becomes as much a life-altering experience as anything for the women as secrets are revealed. There is some adult language in the play and some of the themes presented are for mature audiences.
One of the themes presented through the story is that of gender identity. Come Back To the 5 & Dime, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean, was in fact one of the first plays to examine transgenderism. “I think author Graczyk covered many of the prevailing 1975 reactions and opinions of people who struggled with their sexual identity and went about physically changing it,” Booth said. “Unfortunately, there is still virulent negativity about such choices, so the revelation might be the fact that 46 years later, people who are transgender are still struggling for acceptance.”
Liam Whelan, who plays Joe, added, “I think that this play shows that the most important thing to remember about the subject is to accept those who choose to identify differently than others.”
Booth was quick to point out that Come Back To the 5 & Dime, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean was about more than that. He offered that the play deals with what it means to be friends and on our relationships with God, how living a lie can haunt us and how humans see themselves versus how the world views them.
The cast and crew are looking forward to finally produce another play for a live audience at Stage Coach Theatre. Amy Whelan, who plays Joanne and gets to be on stage with her eldest son exclaimed, “This is such an amazing feeling to be part of a play that will launch the season after a year of “waiting in the wings”. Our cast is very enthusiastic, and it shows during our rehearsals. We hope that the community is as excited as we are to start the season off with a great production!”
Mandi Sester, who plays Sissy in the present, also gets to share the stage with her daughter, Izzy, who plays Sissy in the past. “This has become such a wonderful bonding experience. We have had lengthy conversations on our way to and from the theater both developing our character as well as connecting about deeper thoughts on the subject matter.”
Performances for Come Back To the 5 & Dime, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean are May 20 – 22, 2021 and May 27 – 29, 2021 with a curtain time of 7:30 p.m. along with a Sunday matinee on May 23, 2021 with a curtain time of 2:00. Tickets are $15 each and $13 for seniors and children aged 13 and under but may be inappropriate for younger patrons. Tickets will not be available at the door to purchase.
Thanks for being patient as SCP navigates through its first show with the State of Illinois “Restore Illinois” COVID-19 Mitigation Guidelines. For this production, audience members must wear a mask at all times while in the theatre. Each individual’s mask must cover both their nose and mouth. Seating will be done in a manner that ensures proper social distancing in groups of no more than four.
Since the start of rehearsals, the cast and crew followed safety standards that allowed them to safely interact with each other on stage. As such, they will be able to perform without masks. The cast will remain six feet from the audience. Audience members, however, must remain masked at all times while in the building, including throughout the duration of the performance, even with proof of vaccination.
To purchase tickets or if you have any questions about the COVID-19 mitigations, please contact the box office which opens Saturday, May 1, 2021. The phone number is 815-758-1940. Come back to SCP and help us celebrate our 75th year!