THEATER | Theatre in the Round does justice to Ed Gracyk’s fine play “Come Back to the Five & Dime, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean”


Theatre in the Round’s Come Back to the Five & Dime Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean is a splendid production of Ed Gracyk’s fine play.

Best known as the Robert Altman film that helped make Cher a movie star, the story actually is quite a cut above Hollywood’s usual fodder. It’s a bittersweet saga of old friends and the shifting, tenuous foundations beneath their relationships with one another. Teenage friends Mona, Sissy, Joanne, Edna Louise, and Stella May, all grown up, haven’t got together in ages and, lifelong fans of cinema legend James Dean, hold a reunion of the fan club. What was meant as a nice little renewing of acquaintances turns out to be more than anyone involved bargained for. Heads spin, hearts break, cruel reality sorely testing the bonds of friendship as well as the ability to accept oneself.

come back to the five and dime, jimmy dean, jimmy dean, presented through january 30 at theatre in the round. for information and tickets ($20), see

The greater Come Back to the Five & Dime Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean challenges its characters, trying their very souls, the more uplifting is its conclusion, testifying to just how much the human spirit can endure to survive. To, in fact, prevail.

When you direct an ensemble show well, nobody can tell where the acting picks up and the directing leaves off. This is the case with very sharp director David Coral and his skilled cast of Candace Barret Birk, Noë Tallen, Valarie Falken, Tina Frederickson, Erin Denman, Tina M. Moroni, Ann Carroll, Kelli Gorr, and Daniel Eckman-Thomas. It’s the kind of fluid, seamless blend of talents that’s hard to come by. Gracyk’s script is rich in character-driven dialogue, giving Carol and company a field day with which to execute wonderfully entertaining, powerfully moving theater.

It isn’t often excellent material is done admirable justice. To see a point in case, catch Come Back to the Five & Dime Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean at Theatre in the Round.