Review: THE CEMETERY CLUB at Newport Playhouse & Cabaret Restaurant

Now through June 30th

By: Jun. 05, 2024
Review: THE CEMETERY CLUB at Newport Playhouse & Cabaret Restaurant
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Newport Playhouse and Cabaret Restaurant presents ‘The Cemetery Club’ written by Ivan Menchell and attentively directed by Tony Annicone, a dramatic comedy about three Jewish widows who gather monthly for tea and to visit their late husbands’ graves.

Ida (Leslie Zeile), Lucille (Sandi Nicastro), and Doris (Maureen Noel) have apparently known each other forever. Ida, the most mild-mannered of the trio, adored her husband, Harry, but is ready to start over and begin life without him. Meanwhile, the oversexed Lucille hasn’t wasted any time mourning the death of her philandering husband, Harry. When we are first introduced to them, they are meeting at Ida’s house along with the disapproving albeit devoted Doris who, four years later, is still grieving the loss of her husband, Abe.

The rapport these women share, exemplified by their affectionate banter and whimsical wit, can only be attributed to lifelong friendship, which the characters and the actresses portraying them demonstrate beautifully. There is an evident sisterhood among them that seemingly further intensified when they lost their spouses.

While at the cemetery, they run into Sam (Richard Bagley), the town butcher, who was visiting his wife’s grave. Despite Lucille’s efforts to sink her hungry claws into him, Sam is more taken with Ida, and the two develop a romantic friendship. Much to their chagrin, Doris and Lucille learn that Sam wants to escort Ida to the wedding of their mutual friend, Selma, and try to take matters into their own hands, which ends up doing more harm than good.

The laughs are plenty, courtesy of Menchell’s clever script and the interplay on stage, including a particularly hilarious and well-acted sequence when all three ladies have had too much to drink, but there are pivotal moments of sadness and sincerity that remind the audience to reflect on their predicaments, as well as chuckle at their antics.

Zeile’s Ida is the heart and anchor of the show, and her performance is remarkably sincere and serene. Noel delivers a noteworthy, spirited portrayal of the resolute and arguably ornery Doris; Bagley is criminally charming and earnest as the lonely widower, Sam, and Cindy Killavey is well worthy of mention as the elated Mildred, Sam’s surprise guest to Selma’s wedding. Whether it’s her lascivious disposition, variety of wigs, or assortment of mink accessories, Nicastro steals the show and every scene as the fiery and impulsive yet well-meaning Lucille.

Newport Playhouse’s ‘The Cemetery Club’ is a delightful portrait of friendship, loyalty, and second chances.

‘The Cemetery Club’ runs through June 30th at Newport Playhouse and Cabaret Restaurant, 102 Connell Highway in Newport. For information and tickets, call 401-848-7529 or visit


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