"I want them to care about these people after they leave the theater," says Sheldon Metz, director of Live Theatre Workshop's "The Cemetery Club." The play stars, from left, Leah Kari, Peg Peterson and Roxanne Harley.


"The Cemetery Club" is a play about extremes:

Life and death. Love and hate. The past and the present.

But most of all, says Sheldon Metz, who is directing the production at Live Theatre Workshop, it is about friendship. "It teaches that true, long-lasting friendships are like family," he says. "And you can't lose family; it's a place you can go back to."

The Ivan Menchell play follows three widows, longtime friends, who gather at the cemetery monthly to pay respects to their husbands.

We meet Doris, low-key and happy in the memories of her husband; Lucille, who is anxious to spend as much of her dead philandering husband's money as she can; and Ida, who thinks about dating again, but isn't really sure she should.

"It's a funny take on the aging process," Metz says. "There are different thoughts about getting old and losing a spouse."

The laughs are there, but it's the emotional wallop that speaks to Metz.

"It hits all the emotions," he says.

"I like warm, fuzzy comedies that are poignant - that make you feel."

Metz knows just what he wants the audience to do once the curtain comes down.

"I want them to go out and talk about what happens to these people. I want them to care about these people after they leave the theater."

And, he adds, he wants the audience "to appreciate longtime friends even more."

If you go

• What: Live Theatre Workshop's production of "The Cemetery Club."

• By: Ivan Menchell.

• Director: Sheldon Metz.

• When: Previews 7:30 p.m. today, Friday. Regular performances are 7:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and 3 p.m. Sundays through April 2 (no Easter Sunday performance), and a 3 p.m. performance April 27.

• Where: Live Theatre Workshop, 5317 E. Speedway.

• Tickets: Previews are $12; regular performances $18, with discounts available.

• Reservations, information: 327-4242.

• Running time: 2 hours, with one intermission.

• Cast: Peg Peterson, Michael Woodson, Roxanne Harley, Renata Rauschen and Leah Kari.

Contact reporter Kathleen Allen at kallen@azstarnet.com or 573-4128.