Theatre Rocks! of Ennis has another hit on its hands in its production of Ivan Menchell’s bittersweet comedy, "The Cemetery Club." This story of three Jewish widows in Queens, New York, who meet once a month for tea before going to visit their husbands’ graves, opened last weekend and continues through Aug. 27.
The play opens in the living room of Ida, a sweet-tempered woman portrayed by Caryn Spaniel. Spaniel has played this role under Bill Rhoten’s direction once before, and she absolutely melts into her character. She seems natural and comfortable as the widow who is transitioning beyond a time of grief and is ready to begin a new life.
First to arrive for the monthly meeting of the club is Lucille, played by Angela Mas. Mas is well-known in theatres around the area, and she hits the stage with a bang. She knows just how to play up the brashness of Lucille. Her character seems to have quickly recovered from the loss of her philandering late husband, but Mas does an excellent job of revealing to her audience the pain that underlies all of Lucille’s bravado and playful over-the-top flirting.
The trio is rounded out by Doris, played by Sandra Mahood. Mahood is the Executive Director of the Warehouse Living Arts Center in Corsicana, and it is always a treat to see her work her magic here in Ellis County. She absolutely lights up the stage and is the perfect embodiment of this widow who likes nothing better than to sit at the cemetery, chatting with her dead husband.
When the neighborhood butcher, Sam, wanders into the graveyard and into the lives of the ladies, Ida begins to wonder if maybe she might consider “the next chapter” of life, as Sam phrases it. The widower butcher is portrayed by Bill Walker, and he’s immediately put in the middle of a mess he doesn’t understand.
To Lucille, he’s an eligible bachelor – but his interest in her is such that he can’t even remember her name correctly. To Doris, he’s a rascal who isn’t to be trusted when it comes to women. When the two friends see that he has a real interest in Ida, he becomes the potential disruptor to their friendship – and they think Ida is not ready for this budding romance.
Doris and Lucille discourage Sam almost before they realize what they are doing, and he politely backs away from pursuing Ida. Ida has no idea why Sam has been less attentive and is hurt when he shows up with a glamorous widow, Mildred (Debra Hinson), to attend the wedding of a mutual friend. The ladies’ interference comes to light and sets off some fireworks that truly lead to a new chapter for all.
"The Cemetery Club" by Ivan Menchell, directed by Bill Rhoten, 7:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays Aug. 18, 19, 25, and 26, and 2:30 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 27, at Theatre Rocks!, 505 NW Main St., Ennis. Senior Adults and Students $12, Adults $15. Information: 972.878.5126 or www.theatrerocks.com.