The cast of "The Cemetery Club": Leslie Zeile as Ida, Sandi Nicastro as Lucille, Maureen Noel as Doris, Rick Bagley as Sam and Cindy Killavey as Mildred Source: Newport Playhouse

Review: 'The Cemetery Club' a Delightful Show at Newport Playhouse

Will Demers READ TIME: 2 MIN.

Three Jewish women living in the same community in Pittsburgh have each recently lost their husbands. As all were friends for many years as couples, the three ladies continue their friendships as widows and make a habit of visiting their husbands' graves after tea on a monthly basis. This forms a club of sorts for them, with each talking to their spouses as if they were still around and living in remembrance of past experiences.

Doris (Maureen "Moe" Noel) is fiercely devoted to her late husband – so much so, it seems as though she is unable to enjoy her life after his passing.

Ida (Leslie Zeile) is secretly ready to move on and start dating again; a meeting with their local butcher, Sam (Richard Bagley), at the cemetery one day sets in motion a budding romance.

Lucille (Sandy Nicastro) just wants to live her life to the fullest, husband or not.

Doris is judgmental about everything happening around her, and Lucille is at odds with her prudish behavior. Yet, the two of them plot to stop the romance between Sam and Ida dead in its tracks, no matter the cost. Meanwhile, the wedding day of another friend approaches; the three ladies are set to be bridesmaids, and, as Sam is their chauffeur, he invites a fourth lady to join, Mildred (Cindy Killavey, delightful and fun). Chaos ensues.

"The Cemetery Club," written by Ivan Menchell, opened on Broadway in 1990, starring Eileen Heckart as Lucille. It was made into a 1993 film starring Ellen Burstyn, Diane Ladd, and Olympia Dukakis that was directed by Bill Duke ("Sister Act 2: Back in the Habit"). Now the Newport Playhouse executes a delightfully funny and thoughtful production directed by Tony Annicone.

Menchell's one-act play works very well on this stage, and Annicone has gathered some talent to flesh out these characters. Resident actor Sandy Nicastro imbues Lucille with fiery humor and hilarious facial expressions; she's truly in her element here. Zeile turns in a funny yet heartfelt performance as Ida; she is excellent as the lady whose happiness, sought in her later years, is almost thwarted by her two besties. Noel as Doris is perhaps the funniest. Spewing advice to her girlfriends but taking none in turn, she is wonderful to watch. Bagley is solid as the lonely widower who is reluctant to date someone who isn't his wife.

The show mixes laugh-out-loud moments with some sad realizations; it's a reminder that life is full of surprises and, often, disappointments – which you won't be if you visit Newport and enjoy an afternoon of delightful theater.

"The Cemetery Club" is running through June 30th at The Newport Playhouse and Cabaret Restaurant 102 Connell Hwy Newport, RI 02840, for tickets call 401-848-PLAY (7529) or visit

by Will Demers

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