The Cemetery Club at The Sierra Madre Playhouse

'Where do you want to sit?'
    'How about over here?'
'I want to sit there.'
    'Well, I was going to sit there.'
'Oh dear.'
    'Oh dear.'

Conversations as such filled the small and cozy room of The Sierra Madre Playhouse last Friday during the opening night presentation of The Cemetery Club. Drawing mostly a senior-citizen crowd, the Sierra Madre Playhouse is a nonprofit theater, so all of the office staff and assistants working there are volunteers. Imagine a place with twenty of your grandmas and grandpas roaming around, talking, eating, and looking cute in their dressed-up outfits, and that is what the ambiance is like.

The ticket line for the evening

The opening-night event was equipped with a light buffet and champagne reception for the guests. The buffet included an assortment of fruits, cheeses, bread, sandwiches, and desserts. Keeping the cream puff balls on your plates without dropping them was the challenge of the evening, even for me. The complimentary buffet was delicious and served as the highlight of the evening.

The light buffet before the play

The Cemetery Club, directed by Kim Smith and written by Ivan Menchell, commenced soon after everyone had had their share of the goodies. The play is about three longtime friends, Doris, Ida, and Lucille, who are all widowed and meet each month for tea and to visit their husband's graves. For Doris, the pain of the loss of her husband is still strong. Ida, on the other hand, is beginning to feel the need to move on. Lucille, who never really started to mourn, is determined to play the field.

Doris (Flora Leisure Rubenhold) and Lucille (Diane Nissim)

Their lives all take a dramatic and funny turn when they meet widower Sam the butcher, and one of them falls in love all over again. The play suggests that romance and intimacy are at least important for people of middle-age and beyond, if not more so. The comedy in the play is portrayed through age-jokes, shopping-addictions, and marital problems, and the main plot revolves around the question of whether to start dating again would be admissible or not.

Doris and Lucille

'I've dropped a few pounds.'
    'Oh, you've lost weight?'
'No, it just moved down some.' - was perhaps the funniest joke of the evening. The overall theme of the play was letting go and moving on, something I wanted to do while watching it. Yet in a culture that worships youth, I have to admit that The Cemetery Club had a good message, and the audience seemed to enjoy it and relate. Take your grandparents or parents to see it and they will laugh and they will cry, but don't expect to relate unless you are of senior citizen age yourself.

Sam (Mike Firek) with Lucille and Ida

The Sierra Madre Playhouse is a cute little theater that has been in operation since 1979. Seating only about 100 people, it has been selected 'Best Live Theater' twice by voters of The Pasadena Weekly. For more information about the theater or The Cemetery Club, please visit

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