Irvine Community Theater has staged a spirited and earthy, albeit flawed, production of "Come Back to the Five and Dime, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean," Ed Graczyk's play about small-town Texas folk with giant-size secrets.
The comedy-drama follows the 20-year reunion of an informal fan club for actor James Dean. The members, a host of idiosyncratic types who live in the past as much as in the present, use the reunion as an excuse to dig into their psyches, exhuming memories and secrets from one another and from themselves. It's a cathartic process for the characters, who feel compelled to confess their burdens.
Director Tom Titus emphasizes the curiosity of the personalities, sometimes at the expense of the plot. There are some obscure scenes that could have been delineated better and handled with more subtlety, but generally the show is involving and moves along at a good pace.
Titus also could have taken better control of the acting. The biggest problem is that there is little variation among many of the female roles; almost all are played with the same Texas cowgirl saltiness. They're all interesting but, unfortunately, too similar.
Of the performers, Cindy Bollman as Sissy, the town's man-hungry party girl, and Lorraine McWilliams as Stella May, the brassy wife of an oil baron, deliver the more accomplished portrayals. Wendi de Barros as the younger Sissy (three of the characters are shown as teen-agers in flashbacks) and Susan O'Connell as Mona, the disturbed woman who claims her son was fathered by James Dean, also provide some convincing moments.
"Come Back to the Five and Dime, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean" plays through April 25 at the Irvine Community Theater, 1 Sunnyhill Road, Irvine. Information: (714) 857-5496.