Sagebrush Theatre’s ‘The Cemetery Club’ offers laughs, tears and great performances

Lucille, Ida and Sam (Katie Heckert, Shelbey Parrish and Devin Short) make one final visit to the cemetery near the conclusion of Sagebrush Theatre’s “The Cemetery Club.” (HERALD PHOTO/Sheila McGuire)

EVANSTON — Sagebrush Theatre’s spring play has become instead a late summer play, thanks to COVID-19. The performances featuring the work of some talented locals may have been delayed but they’re also worth the wait. Funny, thoughtful and touching, Sagebrush Theatre’s production of “The Cemetery Club,” is one not to be missed.

The play centers on three women — Ida, Lucille and Doris — who have been friends for years. All three are widowed and they get together every month to visit the cemetery where their husbands are buried. Flirtatious Lucille (played by Katie Heckert) says she is ready to “play the field” and move on. Doris (Amanda Manchester), on the other hand, seems unlikely to even consider moving on with someone else. Ida (Shelbey Parrish) is a bit uncertain and suggests perhaps their visits to the cemetery should become a bit less frequent. When Ida begins spending time with widower Sam (Devin Short), all three women must do some soul searching about relationships, aging and the nature of their friendship.

Parrish, Heckert and Manchester bring their characters to life in multiple ways, including through characteristic New York accents, dancing, fighting and crying as real friends would. All three are funny yet vulnerable, bringing a range of emotions to their characters and the show.

Julie Kokoshka as Mildred rounds out the small ensemble cast in a brief yet substantial and well-acted role. The show, directed by Kayne Pyatt and assistant director AJ Lamb, had an obvious impact on the small audience in attendance for opening on Thursday, Sept. 10, a couple of whom were seen wiping away tears at the conclusion of the performance.

Folks have a few more chances to take in the show, which also runs at 7 p.m. on Thursday and Friday, Sept. 17-18, and a final matinee performance at 2 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 19.

Sagebrush Theatre’s next production is already in the works. The holiday play, “A Gift to Remember,” centered on train passengers stuck in a depot on Christmas Eve, is scheduled to run Nov. 13-21.


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