Flowertown Players Simply Divine in 'The Cemetery Club'

 

Ensemble Cast Delight In Stage Play Celebrating Life & Death

Jeff Walker, Entertainment Review
 
aaaaaacemeteryclub11Flowertown Players turn in a heartwarming rendition of Ivan Menchell's bittersweet comedy 'The Cemetery Club' at the Summerville Theatre. Based on Menchell's 1990 debut of the same name, and further solidified by the 1993 film starring Olympia Dukakis, Ellen Burstyn, and Diane Ladd, 'The Cemetery Club' centers around three elderly Jewish widows who meet once a month for tea before going to visit their late husbands' graves. 
 
Set in a suburban Queens, NY Jewish community the stage production of 'The Cemetery Club' is ripe with humor and personal introspect. Doris, Ida, and Lucille each have their own reminiscences of wedded and not so wedded bliss, approaching respective widowhood from varying perspectives, with the one constant being their forged friendships through good and bad times. 
 
Will a male widower disrupt the bond between the ladies? Flowertown Director Sue Vinnick brings together a delightful ensemble cast that embodies the desired sentiment of 'The Cemetery Club'. A burning question persists. Do graveyards act as singles bars for seniors? 
 
Susan Hallatt is perfectly cast as Doris, a steadfast woman who believes death until you part extends beyond the grave, finding solace is regular visits, tending to her husband's plot like it's a life-long shrine. Despite joining the cast late Hallatt steps into her role with steadfast conviction. Hallatt is a seasoned professional and rises to the challenge.
 
Much like Hallatt, Mary Ann Dyne does a nice job taking on Ida, a sensible woman dedicated to her husband's memory, but unwilling to put her life on hold especially when she meets a potential new romance. Dyne pours herself into the role, portraying Ida as a sympathetic yet longing for a second act.  
 
Arlena Withers brings just the right amount of moxy and feistiness to Lucille, a silver haired, quick witted woman not afraid to use her flirtatious confidence to attract the opposite sex. Withers reflects her character superbly. While each lady is dynamic in their respective roles, together they are a triple thespian threat.
 
J. Barry Gordon has spent decades honing his skills at Flowertown. Whether he's portraying King Claudius or Bob Hope, Gordon totally commits to his character. He does the same with Sam, an affable widower hoping love hasn't passed him by. Making her Flowertown debut in a smaller supporting role, Harriet Wise adds nicely to the production as Mildred, a likeable senior meant to be a short distraction for Sam. 
 
'The Cemetery Club' is designed to be equal parts somber, poignant, and whimsical. Despite the title, the stage play is meant focus on lifelong bonds between friends, and the memories they share. Flowertown Players deliver nicely. The ladies partake in several compelling scenes, especially when enjoying one-sided banter with the deceased. 
 
Together the three women complement one another and are never more lovely than near the end when all return home tipsy from a wedding neither wanted to attend, with a little extra wine leading to an impromptu dance party. Absolutely delightful!
 
Kudos to the set designers for providing Ida's welcoming living room as the main backdrop, with Nicole Ochocki and Pat Cullinane effortlessly assembling tombstones in front of the stage the few times the ladies visit the cemetery. Additionally the background music between scene changes is appropriate. All in all a nice job throughout. A pleasant way to spend two hours at the theatre.
 
'The Cemetery Club' has a short two weekend (Jan 13-Jan 22) run at the Summerville Community Theatre, located at 133 S Main Street in downtown Summerville. For more visit the website at https://www.flowertownplayers.org/ 

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