Its title may suggest a funny romp through the past, but “Come Back to the Five and Dime, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean” is deeper than poodle skirts and malt shops.

Opening May 3 at the Evergreen Playhouse, “Come Back to the Five and Dime, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean” is the second directing experience for seasoned Evergreen actress Michaela Caro. Caro said she was not familiar with the story when she accepted the directing spot, other than knowing that Cher was part of the cast for the 1982 movie of the story. But after reading it several times, she said she began to see the appeal of the story.

Photos: Come Back to the Five and Dime, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean Play

Teen Mona, played by Isabel Nixon Klein, performs on stage during dress rehearsals for "Come Back to the Five and Dime, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean" Monday night at the Evergreen Playhouse in Centralia.

“There’s a lot of deep, controversial subjects that are discussed but the author did it in a light way,” Caro said. “He kept a lot of humor throughout so that I think every single person will be able to relate to it.”

Written by Ed Graczyk, “Come Back to the Five and Dime, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean” tells the story of the “Disciples of James Dean” fan club reuniting in 1975 in the same Woolworths in a small Texas town where they had met 20 years prior. The last time some of them saw each other, they were teenagers, and the middle-aged friends visit and reminisce about their lives. Through the walk down memory lane, secrets are revealed and characters realize their memories may not mirror their own realities.

“It’s a blast from the past and also the past as you might not have seen it,” said Katie Norbie, who portrays fan club member, Mona. “It talks a lot about our youth and our identities and sometimes when we’re not willing to be flexible we sometimes get stuck.”

Photos: Come Back to the Five and Dime, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean Play

Mona, played by Katie Norbie (left) and Juanita, played by Michelle Koenan (right) perform on stage during dress rehearsals for "Come Back to the Five and Dime, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean" Monday night at the Evergreen Playhouse in Centralia.

As the story is told, the audience experiences numerous flashbacks, so two of the characters in the play were cast with teenage versions of themselves. Michelle Lucero portrays the busty and seemingly vivacious Sissy alongside Mac Sherman, who plays Teen Sissy. Norbie and Isabel Nixon Klein portray older and younger versions of Mona, the girl who was an extra in a James Dean film and still harbors a fantasy-world version of her past. Norbie and Nixon Klein both met while on the cast of the last Evergreen show “Secret Garden” and found they shared a lot of similarities, not only in looks but also in mannerisms and speech. The duo both laughed noting they have even worn similar outfits to rehearsal once or twice.

“There’s a little bit of a challenge to it,” Nixon Klein said of acting opposite a different version of yourself. “But it’s fun to share your notes on the character with someone else, like ‘how would she say this?’”

Photos: Come Back to the Five and Dime, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean Play

Juanita, played by Michelle Koenan (left), Sissy, played by Michelle Lucero (middle) and Mona, played by Katie Norbie (right) perform on stage during dress rehearsals for "Come Back to the Five and Dime, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean" Monday night at the Evergreen Playhouse in Centralia.

In his debut on the Evergreen stage, Austin Hallford, portraying Joe, also acts opposite his older self, though nearly unrecognizable to the gang on first glance. Hallford said he believed it was the complexity of the story and its characters that would catch the attention of audience members. 

“There’s a lot of different characters with different perspectives and different lives and I think every time you watch it you can see a different piece,” Hallford said.

Photos: Come Back to the Five and Dime, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean Play

Juanita, played by Michelle Koenan (left) and Teen Mona, played by Isabel Nixon Klein (right) perform on stage during dress rehearsals for "Come Back to the Five and Dime, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean" Monday night at the Evergreen Playhouse in Centralia.

And though the story takes place alternately in the 1950s and 1975, its themes are timeless. Cast members noted that they believed audience members would be able to relate to the different characters in the story. And the secrets and controversy of the past are still worth talking about today.

“It really is just a good story and it covers so many topics that are still relevant today,” Lucero said.

If You Go …

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

When: May 3-19 7:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, 2 p.m. Sundays. Special pay-what-you-will Actor’s Benefit 7:30 p.m. Thursday, May 9

Where: Evergreen Playhouse, 226 West Center Street, Centralia

Cost: $12 adults $10 students/seniors

Info: www.theevergreenplayhouse.com

Evergreen Playhouse Readies for 60th Season

The Evergreen Playhouse board recently released the planned shows for 2019-2020, which marks the playhouse’s 60th season. The playhouse is currently taking applications for directors for the upcoming season and will be selling season tickets through June.  

2019-2020 Season Shows:

“Play On” October 2019

“Scrooge, The Musical” December 2019

“Don’t Dress for Dinner” February 2020

“Next to Normal” March 2020

“One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” May 2020

“Mamma Mia!” June 2020

A seating campaign aimed at replacing the Centralia playhouse’s aging seats. Patrons can purchase a seat for the playhouse for $385, which includes a custom name plate and a seat cushion to use during the 60th season. The hope is for work to begin in the summer of 2020.

For more information, go to: www.theevergreenplayhouse.com

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