WORTHINGTON — Grassroots Community Theatre is bringing Ivan Menchell’s “The Cemetery Club” to stage in Worthington, with performances planned nightly July 12-14 at the Minnesota West Community & Technical College’s Fine Arts Theater.
A poignant dramedy — part drama, part comedy — the show first performed by Grassroots Community Theatre (GCT) in 2004 will have guests tearing up at times, and laughing until they cry at others, assures Director Mary Jane Mardesen.
The story follows three Jewish widows who gather at the cemetery once each month to have one-sided conversations with their dearly departed husbands. As time goes on, the women — all in their 60s — work through their loss. There’s anger, confusion, kinship and eventually the prospect of new love.
Mardesen was encouraged to bring “The Cemetery Club” back more than a dozen years after GCT’s first presentation because not only is the production “hysterical” with its comedic storyline, it’s also tangible, reaching out to all who have lost a spouse, she said.
In the story, the widows wonder how long they should continue to meet at the cemetery, and ponder the prospect of falling in love again. And then enters Sam (John Widboom), a widower ready to play the field, who finds his heart is set on Ida (Jeri Sirovy), a widow of two years.
Though Ida is perhaps ready to move on — “She’s trying to decide where to go in life,” notes Sirovy — her fellow widows have their own opinions. One wants Sam for herself, and the other can’t believe the two are able and willing to move on. Conflict ensues and, well, in comes Mildred as “the other woman.”
For the rest of the story, people will need to buy a ticket to see what happens.
From the original 2004 production, Widboom and Marlene Jueneman (Lucille) are recast. Joining them are frequent GCT player Sandy Ahlberg (Mildred) and relative newcomers to the local stage, Jackson County thespians Sirovy and Denise Deitchman as Doris.
Widboom, a recent widower, said that while being a part of the production has been tough — “I had quite a bit to do with the cemetery in the past few months” — being cast as Sam was something to do to occupy his time.
“It also keeps my brain going memorizing stuff,” Widboom said.
No stranger to the theatrical stage — Widboom has long been cast in GCT roles, as well as numerous interactive melodramas at Pioneer Village — he said he’s had to be reminded that this isn’t an interactive play.
“I certainly encourage people to come out and enjoy the play,” he said. “It has a good story to it.”
In addition to the storyline, audiences will get to see the trio of widows dressed in fluorescent yellow and green bridesmaid dresses in one of the scenes, which Mardesen said is worth the price of admission.
Tickets for “The Cemetery Club” may be purchased in advance at Hy-Vee in Worthington, or at the door. There is no reserved seating, and doors will open at approximately 6:45 p.m. each evening.
“Bring your sons, daughters, cousins, aunts, uncles, grandparents,” Mardesen said. “We’re doing the redo because of public encouragement. We hope that they’ll take advantage of it.”