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BWW Review: CALENDAR GIRLS at Blackfriars Theatre

Now through May 22nd.

BWW Review: CALENDAR GIRLS  at Blackfriars Theatre
Photo credit: Ron Heerkens Jr./Goat Factory Media Entertainment

If you're looking for a theatre experience rife with laughs, tears, cheekiness, dry British wit, and a not-insignificant amount of very-near nudity, I am here to tell you that Rochester's Blackfriars Theatre has got the show for you. "Calendar Girls", a play adapted by Tim Firth and based on the 2003 movie of the same name, is a joyfully irreverent romp that can only be described as a romantic/dramatic comedy....a rom-dram-edy. Did I just invent a genre?

From the playbill: When Annie's (Mary Krickmire) husband John (David Runzo) dies of leukemia, she and best friend Chris (Pam Feicht) resolve to raise money for a new settee in the local hospital waiting room. They manage to persuade four fellow WI members (Nanette Elliott, Tayla Meyerowitz, Maria Scipione, Kim Upcraft,) to pose nude with them for an "alternative" calendar, with a little help from hospital porter and amateur photographer Lawrence (Rowan Collins). The news of the women's charitable venture spreads like wildfire, and hordes of press soon descend on the small village of Knapeley in the Yorkshire Dales. The calendar is a success, but Chris and Annie's friendship is put to the test under the strain of their new-found fame.

While this plot synopsis might suggest to the casual viewer that "Calendar Girls" is a lighthearted British comedy about aging ladies-who-lunch, it's much more than that. Sure, these elements are present and do offer comic relief, but "Calendar Girls" also addresses very real substantive issues that all of us---especially women---grapple with every day: body image, learning to love yourself, and making peace with getting older chiefly among them. The cast deftly navigate these weighty topics while also offering near-nonstop laughter, a tribute to the acting abilities of each performer and the direction of Alexa Scott-Flaherty. In particular, Mary Krickmire's Annie leads the pack of WI ladies with equal parts heart, sincerity, and humor.

"Calendar Girls" is great fun, makes for a perfect ladies night out (though this fella certainly enjoyed it, too), and is a delightful way to end the Blackfriars season. It's playing until May 22nd, for tickets and more information click here.

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From This Author - Colin Fleming-Stumpf