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Come Back to the Five and Dime, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean


Kucom’s presentation of Ed Graczyk’s Come Back to the Five and Dime, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean, has opened for a short, intense season at the CQU Conservatorium Theatre. This play explores the fan club fetish of youth, but at a deeper level, the need to create illusion over reality in one’s life in a small, intimate community such as McCarthy, Texas. Jimmy Dean died before the release of Giant, the Texan film in which he starred with Elizabeth Taylor. The location, McCarthy, thus became the shrine for James Dean pilgrims.

The audience enters the now rather seedy and run down five and dime store, the meeting place of Dean’s fan club as their twenty year anniversary of his death dawns. The atmosphere echoes and highlights the everlasting heat for the boredom, thunder for the spasmodic, shocking drama: this is brought about by effective red lighting and cyclorama silhouetted with black oil rigs, together with startling sound effects.

The Director has had an enormous task in bringing all aspects of this complicated drama with its diverse cast together; Heather MacTavish has risen boldly to the occasion. Her band of experienced actors has enfolded their younger versions in a smooth contrapuntal effect brought about vividly through alternating the stifling red with a clear blue light. Contrapuntal action on stage in this case, where time is twenty years apart can be confusing if not professionally handled. The flicking backwards and forwards in time which surprises at first, segues into an acceptance of the younger versions together with their older selves as the drama unfolds.

There is not one denouement but several as the personality facades are peeled away like onion skins, revealing the truth behind each image. Good acting enables the cast to surprise, delight, appal and sadden the audience. Bronwyn Grannall as Juanita plays very well the moralistic, but understanding mother figure who provides a home away from home for club members.

Carolyn Thompson’s Mona is most convincing and her former self played so enthusiastically by Bella Raymond gels beautifully. Sheryn Dempster as Sissy, Mona’s bosom pal, is excellent throughout and young Sissy, Samantha Gregg, bubbles with life.

James Bunderson gives a heart-stirring performance as Joe. Kelly Gregg plays the over-the-top Stella with her bitter twist, superbly. Anne Elliott’s Edna Louise is completely in character, gently glowing. Sue Dalton as Joanne is so professional, so in command, so ruthless.

Kucom’s support team has contributed enormously to this play’s success. The theatre with its space, its acoustics, lighting and sound technology with willing experts, provides a new dimension to Kucom performances. To present this erstwhile Broadway production in Mackay is a huge ask. Heather MacTavish and her professional, enthusiastic cast have achieved just this.

Review by Enid Forsyth





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