South Charlotte

Waxhaw’s Storefront Theatre set to kick off season

The Storefront Theatre of Waxhaw will present the first production of the 2014-15 season 7:30 p.m. Sept. 27 and 2:30 p.m. Sept. 28 at Waxhaw Presbyterian Church.

The church is at 8100 Old Waxhaw Monroe Road.

The play will be “The Cemetery Club” by Ivan Menchell. Admission is $12.50 and tickets can be purchased online at www.thestorefronttheatre.org. Season tickets also are available.

If the title sounds vaguely familiar, it may be because the play opened on Broadway at the Brooks Atkinson Theatre in New York City on May 12, 1990, and originally was presented at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C., on March 30 that year.

Three years later, “The Cemetery Club” became a Hollywood movie featuring notables including Ellen Burstyn, Diane Ladd, and Olympia Dukakis.

Storefront Theatre director and founder Judy Simpson Cook filled me in on how “The Cemetery Club” came to lead off the theater’s eighth season.

“It’s a play about friendship, and came to my attention through friendship and was cast through friendship,” she said. “For the first show of the season, I always try to have a show that’s funny but a little poignant: a dramedy, I guess you’d call it.”

There was an element of life imitating art involved in the selection of play.

In the work, three close friends – Ida, Lucille, and Doris – indulge in a monthly ritual: They visit their husbands’ graves to have a little chat and make sure everything’s okay.

Cook said she has a group of longtime friends with whom she has lunch to celebrate birthdays and Christmas.

“At one of these lunches last year, I asked if any of them had any suggestions for the sort of play I needed,” Cook said. “Ginger Curl said, ‘Why don’t you do The Cemetery Club?’

“Once I read it, I knew that was a perfect suggestion. It’s funny, it’s sweet, it’s sad and the characters are wonderful.”

Curl and her husband, Al; Annette Gill; Eleanor Wixson; Erica Welzenbach; and Bonnie Johnson will bring those characters to life via the reading-stage format used by Storefront Theatre.

Cook said the three women in the play are at different stages of adjustment after the deaths their husbands. One is clinging to the past, one is ready to move on and the other is not quite certain how she feels.

One day, a man named Sam comes to the cemetery to visit his wife’s grave, meets the ladies and throws their relationship into a spin.

“You won’t laugh through it all,” said Cook. “You might get a little misty from time to time, but ultimately I think this is one of those plays that leaves you feeling good.”

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