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Laughing with death in Squamish

Between Shifts production finds humour in death



Have you heard the one about the three Jewish widows who walk into a cemetery?

While that may sound like the first line of a really bad joke, it is the premise of a stage production starting this week in Squamish.

Between Shifts Theatre is putting on The Cemetery Club for the next two weeks.

Ivan Menchell wrote the play and the theatre company in Squamish has made special arrangements to put it on at the Eagle Eye Theatre starting tonight (March 22).

Not wanting to follow in the footsteps of a recent shortened run of a production in Squamish called A Tribute to Princess Bride, the producers of this latest effort made sure nothing would prevent The Cemetery Club from completing its full two-week run then competing at the North Shore Zone Festival in May.

Liz Gruber and Kathy Daniels are the producers. They brought in noted Vancouver director Judi Price to help them bring it together. This will be the third time Price has helped with a Squamish production in the last half-dozen years.

Gruber and Daniels are pulling double duty by acting in two of the lead roles while Carla Fuhre, the director of the company's winter production, is playing the third female lead.

The cast also includes Janice Hayden and veteran actor Skai Stevenson.

According to Daniels, who is a Canadian Actors' Equity Association member, the play is about three Jewish friends dealing with the deaths of their husbands.

"They've been friends for a long time," says Daniels. "One of them starts to become interested in another relationship and is ready to move on. The other two aren't so ready for her to move on."

The play is a comedy but Daniels says there are some serious moments — to be expected when death is a main theme.

The script was the recommendation of Price, says Daniels.

"She said she'd been wanting to do this play and she said she thought it would be a good play for Squamish," says Daniels.

Price, a friend of Daniels's for many years, says she acted in The Cemetery Club back in 2007 and really enjoyed it.

When the club was looking for its next production Price says she suggested The Cemetery Club because there's only one male in the cast and she jokes that Squamish has a shortage of male actors.

"I love the play, it is a very funny play," says Price from her work place at Capilano University in North Vancouver with a more serious tone in her voice.

Price says it is funny despite having death as the main theme.

"It is about death in a very funny way," she says. "It is a good script and I have very good talent. The two combinations are working very brilliantly."

Price says the script is a challenging one.

"The lines are a bit difficult for some of our actors because there's sometimes a lot of dialogue that banters back and forth quickly," she says. "Timing is very important."