The small Panamanian mountain town of Boquete has a surprising number of organizations, most of which are started and operated by expats, that cater to a wide variety of interests. There is a photography club, hiking groups, knitters & quilters, animal rescue, art clubs, a birdwatching group, line dancing, and more. Possibly one of the most surprising is the community theater organization, called the Boquete Community Players (BCP). The expat community got together 10+ years ago and remodeled an existing building into a theater and cafe which hosts a wide variety of events. The BCP has been putting on shows for the community all that time and they are quite popular. Because of the amount of work involved, there are typically just 1-2 shows per year. I believe we've attended every one that's been produced while we've been here. They are a lot of fun.
At the beginning of the year, the BCP announced they were holding auditions for a new play, called the Dixie Swim Club. It would feature an all female cast with only 5 roles. Although she has no theatrical experience,Tina (my wife) decided she wanted to give it a try. Lo and behold, she was selected for one of the roles. That turned out to be the easy part...
Rehearsals started in early January and were 5 days a week, for about 3 hours each day. In addition, there were many, many hours spent studying and memorizing lines on her own. It turned out Tina's role had the most lines. Add to this the fact that Tina helped to find, buy, or make various small props needed for the show and had to come up with her own wardrobe, and you can imagine how busy she was for 2 1/2 months (the show opened in mid-March).
The script, written by 3 professional writers a number of years ago and performed in many different places, was excellent. The play is about a group of 5 women who were teammates on their college swim team. They were close friends and they had a reunion every year in the same beachfront cottage in North Carolina. Yes, that means in addition to the lines, Tina had to work on a Southern accent. The four scenes show the women when they are ages 44, 49, 54, and 77. The women discuss what's going on, or has gone on, as they move through their lives. Each character has their own unique personality, such as the career-oriented lawyer, the vain beauty who always has an eye out for her next ex-husband, and former nun making the transition to a secular life. Tina's character was the swim team captain, who makes sure everything is organized and scheduled - a take-charge gal (did someone say type casting?). The dialogue is very funny, with some great visual gags, and it also has some very poignant moments as the characters deal with some serious issues, such as divorce, disease, and death.
Ironically, because of Tina's prematurely gray hair, she had to wear a wig in the first 3 scenes, even though in the first 2 scenes she was portraying her character at an age that is very close to her real age. For the last scene, she sported her real hair and some additional makeup to "age" her. Some of our friends didn't even realize it was Tina until fairly late in the play because of the wig.
There were five public performances and the production received unanimous glowing reviews. A couple of long-time residents, who had seen almost all the previous BCP productions, said this one was the best. It was very gratifying for the cast & crew, who put so much time and effort into this show. Although most of the show was filled with laughs, there were some dramatic, emotional moments (most of which were delivered by Tina). The final line of the show is delivered by Tina, who is on the stage alone. It's a very emotional line, delivered after a long, dramatic pause. Tina said her biggest "payoff" was seeing the audience members coming out of the theater, wiping their eyes (men and women). Then she knew she "nailed it."
Tina can now cross this off her "bucket list". It was a great opportunity at the right time. Despite all the accolades, she's not anxious to jump back into another production. It was a LOT of volunteered time and effort and the public performances were very stressful for someone who is used to being behind the scenes. The fact that so many audience members complimented Tina on how natural she seemed onstage is more of a tribute to her acting ability than her comfort level. As a newcomer to the Boquete stage, she certainly made a splash.