Little Egg Theatre Company Performs ‘The Cemetery Club’ This Weekend

Play Theme Not So Deadly Serious
Jun 20, 2018
Photo by: Rick Mellerup GRAVES MATTER: Doris (Tonya Neuweiler) is locked in mourning her husband, while her friend Lucille (Mary Henry, at left), is satisfied mocking her late, unfaithful husband in ‘The Cemetery Club,’ on stage June 22-24.

The Little Egg Theatre Company didn’t die; it was just sleeping.

LETCO didn’t produce a single show in 2017 because the company’s primary venue, the Little Egg Harbor Township Community Center, was closed because of a badly leaking roof. The roof has been repaired so LETCO is back in business, performing Ivan Menchell’s comedy-drama “The Cemetery Club” this Friday and Saturday, June 22 and 23 at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, June 24 at 2 p.m.

The play, set in a house and a cemetery in Forest Hills, Queens, gets its name because three middle-aged widowed Jewish friends have made it a habit to get together once each month to visit the graves of their husbands. But as time passes their friendship begins to fray at the edges.

Doris (Tonya Neuweiler) has been unable to move on in life since her Abe passed away four years to the day that the show opens. On the third anniversary of his death she freaked out. “One minute she was doing fine, the next she’s laying belly up on her plot next to Abe’s screaming ‘Take me now!’”

Lucille (Mary Henry), the last to lose her husband, not only moved on but in high gear, dating every available man. Of course her husband had been unfaithful so she has no qualms about disrespecting his memory. “So Harry,” she says at his grave, “read any good books lately? I suppose I’ll have to do all the talking again. Nice. Like when we were married. Except now at least I know where you are every night.”

Ida (Kara Schwaller) is in the middle, both in terms of the length of her widowhood and in her feelings of starting a new life without her husband Murray. “Funny, when I’m here with you, knowing Doris is with Abe and Lucille’s with Harry, it feels like we’re all together again. Reminds me of the cruises the six of us used to take. You, Harry and Abe would gamble while we shopped from one end of St. Thomas to the other … Murray, it worries me, the memories being that strong. It makes it so hard to – I don’t know.”

Much of the play’s humor comes from the rather catty interactions of the women:

IDA. I am very proud of my age. I happen to think I look pretty terrific.

LUCILLE. You do. I hope I look as good as you do at your age.

IDA. You did.

Things get more serious, though, when Ida begins dating Sam, a neighborhood butcher the threesome bumped into at the cemetery when he was visiting his wife’s grave. Jealousy rears its ugly head. Unknown to Ida, Lucille and Doris improbably team up and meet with Sam to interfere with the budding romance. They are successful.

Will the friendship survive? Will Ida and Sam get back together, even after he brings a date, Mildred (Tara McQuaid) to a wedding he was originally going to attend with Ida? Will Doris ever be able to move on?

Sorry, no giveaways here. You’ll have to see the show and get the answers yourself.

Seeing the show is easy enough. Tickets are $10 and may be purchased at the door. The Little Egg Harbor Township Community Center is located at 319 West Calabreeze Way.  —R.M.


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