Azuay Community Theater launches a new season in a new, permanent home with the comedy The Cemetery Club, opening November 8

Nov 2, 2023 | 0 comments

The cast and director of Azuay Community Theater’s production of The Cemetery Club. (Photos by Aiden Massey)

By John Olson

Azuay Community Theater, Cuenca’s English-language theater company, introduces a number of firsts for its 2023-24 season, opening on November 8. For the first time, the company will present a season of six plays – all in their new El Centro home at Antonio Vega Muñoz 14-46 between Coronel Tálbot and Estévez de Toral, just steps from the Tranvía stops at Coronel Talbot and Trés de Noviembre.

The former beauty school space has been redesigned and fitted into a fully functioning theater including the popular lounge and bar area for a social hour that opens an hour before each performance with additional service at intermission.

The season’s six productions will also feature a number of new faces along with actors who audiences may remember from previous productions over the company’s nine-year history.

Broadway Show The Cemetery Club Was Also a Movie
The season opener is the hilarious and heartwarming The Cemetery Club, by Ivan Menchell. This comedic drama delves into the lives of three friends—Doris, Lucille, and Ida—who live in the same tight-knit Jewish community and have recently lost their husbands. They meet once a month for tea before going to visit their husbands’ graves.

Ida is sweet tempered and ready to begin a new life; Lucille is a feisty embodiment of the girl who just wants to have fun; and Doris is priggish and judgmental, particularly when Sam the butcher meets the widows while visiting his wife’s grave. When Sam and Ida become attracted to each other, the budding romance upsets the other two widows and the resulting fireworks are hysterical, poignant, and entertaining. The Cemetery Club was originally produced on Broadway in 1990, and its film version featuring Olympia Dukakis, Diane Ladd, and Ellen Burstyn was a hit in 1993.

Mix of Veteran ACT Performers and Fresh Faces
The very talented ACT regular Cody Hamilton, who last year played Theda in It Had to Be You, and Muriel in I’m Herbert at ACT, plays Ida. Her love interest Sam is played by ACT newcomer L. Jay Meyer, a 2022 transplant from Texas with professional acting credits in Houston, New York and other US cities. Cast as the feisty Lucille is Christine Hanks, who moved to Cuenca with her husband very recently and has performed in community theaters in Oregon, New York and North Carolina. Joy Broomfield (who with ACT has played the role of Mary in How the Other Half Loves and the role of Ida in Morning’s at Seven) is the difficult Doris. Mary Helfrich makes her ACT debut as their friend Mildred.

Professional Direction of Gerald Cole
Directing The Cemetery Club for ACT is Gerald Cole, who has worked professionally as an actor, choreographer, theater educator and director in shows in New York, Chicago, and Florida; having moved to Cuenca from Chicago earlier this year. Cole says of The Cemetery Club, “I fell in love with The Cemetery Club as soon as I read the script. The themes of friendship, moving forward, and death are universal and there are none who find themselves free from these adventures.”

Tickets and Performance Schedule
The Cemetery Club will be performed just four times on Wednesday, November 8 at 2 pm, Friday, November 10 at 4 pm, Saturday, November 11 at 4 pm, and Sunday, November 12 at 4 pm.

The Lobby Bar opens for a social hour starting one hour before each showtime. Tickets ($15 advance purchase) are available at http://www.actseats.com. All performances will be at the new Azuay Community Theater, Antonio Vega Muñoz 1446 between Coronel Tálbot and Estévez de Toral https://maps.app.goo.gl/ThSQUAJeNVAc3oSj9Flex ticket holders can reserve their seats by emailing actseats@gmail.com.

More information on ACT’s 2023-24 season and volunteer opportunities are available at http://www.actseats.com.

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