Revealing Reunion

Disciples of James Dean take the stage at Grove Theatre

La Rue Novick
Staff Writer

Friday, June 18, 2004 – Small towns are funny. People in small towns like to hide things.

In “Come Back to the 5 & Dime Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean,” a group of women from McCarthy, Texas — a small town near the place where James Dean’s flick “Giant” was filmed — reunite the Disciples of James Dean fan club 20 years after the icon’s untimely death. The meeting is, to say the least, revealing.

Skeletons long hidden in each woman’s closet come forth in this dramatic yet funny tale. There can be no more pretenses that small towns usually afford. All is laid bare.

“Basically, everybody’s living a lie,” said Rebecca Holden, who actually grew up in a small town in Texas and plays Joanne in the Grove Theatre’s production of “Come Back to the 5 & Dime.” “Through the course of the reunion, it all spills out.”

Without giving too much away, some of these women have some pretty nasty secrets. There’s only one who was and always remains truthful: Edna Louise, played by Amberly Chamberlain of Burbank. And Stella doesn’t like her.

Stella, played by Holly Jeanne of Orange, is a rich woman who has more money than she knows what to do with, but has no children, Jeanne said. And Edna Louise is pregnant with her seventh, a fact Stella bashes her for.

“Stella is a very vicious person,” Jeanne said. “She’s got everything but what she really wants.”

But all that will be revealed as the play unfolds.

The prevalent theme of the play is that truth will be revealed, but some of the characters resist it more than others. Mona is a perfect example.

“Mona, oh, poor Mona,” said Jean Carol, who has returned to the Grove Theatre to play the role. “She is a woman really living in denial. The truth comes out, but she’s fighting it tooth and nail.”

Mona organized this little re union of the James Dean fan club. She had been an extra in the movie “Giant” and on the day Dean died in a car accident, she tells her friends that she’s pregnant with his child. (The play intermittently flashes back to that September day in 1955).

One thing this play is guaranteed to do is make the audience reflect on their own lives, Carol said.

“You see the characters as youth and as adults. As a result you see the consequences of the decisions they made in their youth,” said Holden, who has starred in “Knight Rider,” “General Hospital” and the “Love Boat.”

“Consequences are a result of your choices.”

Appearing at the Grove for the first time, Alana Stewart of Los Angeles takes on the role of Sissy, which she loves, Stewart said.

“She’s just a good ol’ girl, care free and fun,” Stewart, who is also a native Texan, said. “She’s a little bit of a slut. But she has a real change that’s revealed in the end of the play. It’s very unexpected.”

Seems to be a lot of that going on in this production.

“It’s a really, really interesting play,” said Stewart, who recently returned from filming a movie in Mexico. “The cast is so good. There’s not a weak link anywhere.”

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Rebecca Holden (8)




Rebecca Holden (9)