In 1987, “The Cemetery Club” by Ivan Menchell was performed as a “work in progress” by the Yale Repertory Theatre.
Three years later, it was published, and, six years later, it was a Touchstone Pictures film starring Ellen Burstyn as Esther – the Ida character of the film, Olympia Dukakis as Doris and Diane Ladd as Lucille.
Barbara Lorio plays Lucille in the upcoming ACP production of “The Cemetery Club.”
She played the same role four years ago.
Three women in New York gather every month to pay a visit to their husbands. Their husbands have been dead for years.
The latest Aiken Community Playhouse comedy “The Cemetery Club” follows Lucille, Doris and Ida as they learn that life can carry on even after death.
The show will open on Friday at 8 p.m., in the Playhouse's Black Box theater.
Lucille, played by Barbara Lorio; Doris, played by Elaine Schmidt, and Ida, played by Marcia Harris, have been best friends for years, director Thurmond Whatley said.
After their husbands died, they decided to get together for a regular outing – a monthly visit to their husbands' grave sites.
One day, while they are out at the cemetery, they spot a man visiting his wife's grave, Whatley said.
His name is Sam, played by Bob Engle.
All three women are drawn to him – this overall nice guy. But one widow in particular grows a bit more fond of him than the rest.
Sam's entrance gives the women a reality jolt.
“The husbands have been gone long enough where the ladies need to start thinking about what's going on, what's going to happen for the rest of my life,” Whatley said.
Schmidt was sitting among her fellow cast members, when she recalled what day it was.
Her husband had past away eight years ago, as of last week.
Harris looked a bit startled at her, but Schmidt replied: “And here I am. Time marches on.”
Time does march on, not only for the actors but for their characters, as well, Whatley said about the show's plot.
“But let's not give away the ending,” he added.
Through their years of friendship, the widows forged a powerful bond.
“These women are like sisters,” Harris said.
But, in the end, each one is her own woman.
Lucille is energetic and ready for all the parties of life, while Doris is unsure of what do, Whatley said.
Ida, who owns the apartment the ladies meet at each month, is the one who knows it's really time to move on.
“She's the one who wants to get out, to do things, to meet people, but she (does) feel guilty,” Harris said.
There is another woman tangled into the story.
Her name is Mildred, played by Nancy Hansen, and she's more of the “pressure” on the group, Whatley said.
Overall, the show is deemed “adorable and funny,” as Nancy Schroeder, props mistress, sees it.
“I have a good time,” Engle said. “We all have a good time.”
“We enjoy it,” Lorio said.
Amy Vincent is the show's stage manager.
Schroeder also assisted backstage, while her husband Jim assisted with the set construction.
“The Cemetery Club” was written by Ivan Menchell.
It will be performed in the Playhouse's Black Box theater on Friday and Saturday and July 26 and 27 at 8 p.m., and Sunday at 3 p.m.
There are a few adult themes.
Ticket reservations are advised, as seating is very limited.
The URS Center for Performing Arts is at 126 Newberry St.
For more information, call 803-648-1438 or visit www.aikencommunityplayhouse.org.
Stephanie Turner has a hand on all areas of production for the Aiken Standard, where she reports, edits and designs pages. She graduated in July 2012 with a journalism degree from Valdosta State University and lives with her family in Evans, Ga.
Editor's note: This version of this story has been updated to correct the time of Friday's performance. The Aiken Standard regrets the error.
Staff Photo by Stephanie Turner Doris, played by Elaine Schmidt on the left, looks firmly at her friend Lucille, played by Barbara Lorio, during rehearsals for the Black Box upcoming production of “The Cemetery Club.”×