In the small English village of Knapeley in Yorkshire Dales, the local chapter of the Women's Institute has always done its part for charity. Each year, the ladies' fundraising calendar features such themes as Yorkshire's scenery, wildflowers, homegrown vegetables and other benign subjects.
But when Annie loses her husband, John, to cancer, she and her group of friends become determined to raise money for the town's hospital. The only way to raise more money than ever is to go further than anyone has imagined. So when this group of ordinary women hatch a plan to pose as nude models for the calendar, the idea stirs up a media sensation.
"Calendar Girls" previews Thursday, Feb. 9, opens Friday, Feb. 10, and runs through Sunday, Feb. 26, at Camelot Theatre, 101 Talent Ave., Talent. Tickets are $18 for the Feb. 9 preview. All other tickets are $27 or $34. Rush tickets are $18 and, if available, can be purchased one hour before curtain. Tickets can be purchased online at camelottheatre.org or by calling 541-535-5250. The box office is open from noon to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday and one hour before performances.
Gwen Overland directs playwright Tim Firth's laugh-out-loud stage adaptation of the film starring Helen Mirren — a hilarious look at true events and a reminder that one is never too old to make a difference.
"A determined and well focused group of women can be dangerous for they can change the world," Overland says. "Of course, this is true of anyone, regardless of their gender. Women believe in and practice the power of community. Somehow they intuitively know that by admitting their own individual vulnerabilities, they grow that much stronger when met by like-minded women. They know that strength, not weakness, is the basis of community."
Roy Von Rains Jr. plays Annie's husband, who writes "The flowers of Yorkshire are like the women of Yorkshire. The last stage of their growth is the most glorious," before he succumbs to leukemia in the first part of the play.
Cynthia Rogan plays Annie — Miss February, and Presila Quinby plays her friend, Chris — Miss October. Together, they persuade four fellow Women's Institute members to pose nude with them for an "alternative" calendar, with a little help from hospital porter and amateur photographer Lawrence, played by Nicholas Jules Hewitt.
"This is the experience of the ladies of Yorkshire," Overland says. "We watch them as they deal with their own individual unmet dreams and desires — each riding the trajectory of their own agenda — as they gradually meld to form a unified bouquet. This is the basic theme of the play — that we grow more radiant, more beautiful and more resilient when we work together as community."
Meagan Kirby plays Brenda, Lady Cravenshire and Elaine; Lyda Woods plays Celia (Miss September); Kathy Wing is Cora (Miss July); Karen Douglas is Jessie (Miss January); and Judith Rosen is Ruth (Miss November) in this slightly risque comedy.
Kira Herdklotz-Yasutake and David Eisenberg round out the cast as Marie, the disagreeable chairwoman of the Women's Institute, and Rod, Chris' husband.
Don Zastoupil is set designer and builder; Jenelle Ragsdale is lighting designer; Brian O'Connor is sound and video designer; Sharon Swingle is costume designer; and Olivia Harrison is properties master.
Playwright Firth, who co-wrote the 2003 film, translated it for stage in 2008. After a successful tryout at the Chichester Festival Theatre in September 2008 and a lengthy national tour, the play previewed in April 2009 at the Noel Coward Theatre in London's West End.