By Joe Szekeres
According to the Scarborough Theatre Guild website, their upcoming production, ‘The Cemetery Club’, is a sweet -tempered and moving comedy about three widows who meet once a month for tea before going to visit their husbands’ graves. ‘The Cemetery Club by Ivan Menchell opens Friday April 6 2018 for a three-week run.
These three are very different in their outlook on life: one is a feisty gal who just wants to have fun; one is ready to start a new life; and one is still carrying the torch for her late husband and is critical of the other two. This group dynamic goes well until a widower enters the picture, and the women must decide whether there is more to life than re-visiting the past.
The original 1990 production of ‘The Cemetery Club’ included stalwart theatre veteran Eileen Heckart. It was made into a film in 1993 with veterans Olympia Dukakis, Ellen Burstyn and Diane Ladd.
The stage production offers an excellent opportunity for seasoned female performers, but will this story appeal to younger audiences? Director Jerrold Karch adamantly believes so. In a recent on-line conversation, Mr. Karch told me, “The characters are ageless and very real people with real emotions and feelings. Young people will see that issues of belonging, awkwardness, partying, sex are not solely relegated to youth. Even experienced adults also feel these same emotions”.
Producer Larry Westlake concurs. “The friendship these three women have is what someone can have at any age. The script’s story of a keen sense of family and love is what originally led the Theatre Guild to select this play.”
The selection process of ‘The Cemetery Club’ or any play with STG is quite intriguing. Mr. Westlake told me there is an extensive library of play scripts which members are encouraged to borrow and read. Suggestions are then given to a play reading committee where information and data are compiled. From these suggestions, the committee then narrows the selection down to a dozen or so titles. It is at this point where public readings begin where members and non-members are invited to attend where scripts are read aloud and then discussed at the conclusion. If a person is selected to read a role at a public reading, this is not to be a pre-casting by any means. The play reading committee then takes this data, narrows it down further where four titles are selected with two alternates as back up.
Messrs. Karch and Westlake have over fifty years of experience in community theatre combined. Mr. Karch holds a Bachelor of Arts in Theatre and a Bachelor of Education in Dramatic Arts. Currently, Mr. Westlake is president of the Scarborough Theatre Guild and has worked in several groups around the city from Etobicoke Musical Productions and Civic Light Opera to the sister groups of Theatre Scarborough which include Scarborough Players and Scarborough Music Theatre. Indeed, the sharing of communal expertise is alive and well in this region.
The cast of ‘The Cemetery Club’ is also well known for their diverse work on stage in Scarborough and on other stages in the greater Toronto area. Malorie Mandolidis plays Ida, Molly Lubelle plays Lucille, Patricia Byrne plays Doris, Susan Sanders plays Mildred and Harry Hochman plays Sam.
Performances begin April 6, 2018 at the Scarborough Village Theatre, 3600 Kingston Road in Scarborough. A wine and cheese reception will follow the opening night performance. Performances continue April 7, 12, 13, 14, 19 and 20 at 8 pm and April 8, 15 and 21 at 2 pm. Tickets may be purchased at the door before each performance or visit at their website for further information to purchase tickets online.