Downriver golden girls create laughter in ‘Cemetery Club’

Photo by Sue Suchyta
Jema McCardell (left) of Trenton as Lucille, Kelly Klug of Lincoln Park as Doris, and Lynn Babchek-Tate of Taylor as Ida perform in “The Cemetery Club” at 8 p.m. Aug. 15, 16, 22 and 23 with the Southgate Community Players at the Corner Playhouse, 12671 Dix-Toledo Road in Southgate.

Downriver’s own golden girls take to the stage in Ivan Menchell’s “The Cemetery Club” at Southgate Community Players Corner Playhouse, 12671 Toledo-Dix Road.

The romantic comedy, with elements of drama, runs 8 p.m. Aug. 15, 16, 22 and 23, with $10 tickets available at 734 282-4727 or

Directed by Chris Rollet of Southgate, the cast includes Lynn Babchek-Tate of Taylor as Ida; Jema McCardell of Trenton as Lucille; Kelly Carpenter Klug of Southgate
as Doris; and Allen Park residents Alan and Andrea Demorow as Sam and Mildred.

Three widows meet once a month for tea before visiting their husbands’ graves. Each has different plans and expectations for their futures. When one of the women is ready to date again, the negative reaction of the other two could end more than their friendship.

McCardell plays a woman whose husband was cheating on her just before he died suddenly of a disease, and their issues were never resolved. Her widowed character wants to play the field.

She said the play features the women’s strong friendships, which is a universal theme.

“The love that these ladies have for each other, even while they constantly bicker, and the inside jokes that you have with your friends, you will identify with that no matter what age you are,” McCardell said. “The little things about that best friend that bugs you but she is your friend, so she gets to be that way and get away with it.”

She said even if audience members have not experienced a personal mourning process, they likely identify with the emotional bond between the three women.

She added that the majority of the play’s interactions
are humorous.

“It sounds like it is a somewhat morbid topic, but it is hilarious,” McCardell said. “We crack ourselves up all the time in practice.”

She said it is a fun romp through the lives of the women.

“Even though there are sadder moments in it, and poignant moments, you will laugh, you will cry,” she said. “We have just had a really fun time just spending time together and getting that friendship solidified so we know each other and trust each other on the stage, because these women have know each other for over 20 years, so there is a bonding there that you just can’t act.”

Babchek-Tate tells people “The Cemetery Club” is a comedy despite its title.

“It is about three older women, sort of like ‘The Golden Girls,’ maybe a little bit like ‘Hot in Cleveland’
and how they meet once a month for tea and go off to the cemetery to see their dead husbands,” she said. “I also tell them that I get to play the romantic lead, which I have never really done before.”

Klug said her character is content with the status quo.

“When things don’t go the way she wants them to go, she has a pretty witty, sharp sarcastic tone and kind of gets her point across that way,” Klug said.

She said her character is most like Dorothy on “The Golden Girls.”

“She doesn’t feel the need to move on,” Klug said. “She liked what she had and the next chapter of her life is by herself romantically and focused on her grandchildren.”

Rollet said people have encouraged him to direct the show for many years.

“When I read it, it is just a very funny show,” he said.

“It is funnier than you would think. It is Neil Simon funny. There are a lot of funny lines in it that are better than most people would expect.”

He said the women in the play show that you can still have friendships even though they argue about many things.
Rollet said the play is a cross between “Golden Girls” and “Sex in the City.”

“The girls in ‘Sex in the City” could always bicker with each other,” he said. “It’s like that. It is not as dated as ‘Golden Girls.’ It is pretty up-to-date.”

Auditions for Southgate Community Players’ production of “The 1940s Radio Hour” take place at 7 p.m. Sept. 7 and 8 at the Corner Playhouse, 12671 Toledo-Dix Road.

Chris Rollet directs, with Matt Hatty as musical director.

Potential cast members must be age 17 and up to audition. There is limited choreography, and the show has three non-singing roles.

For more information, go to