BWW Review: CALENDAR GIRLS at Diamond Head Theatre
Based on a true story, Calendar Girls (also a 2003 hit movie) accomplishes exactly what it sets out to do. It makes you laugh, it makes you cry, and it leaves you with a feeling of empowerment as you leave the theatre.
When Annie's husband John dies of leukemia, she and best friend Chris decide to raise money for a local hospital. They manage to convince four friends to pose nude with them for an "alternative" calendar. The news of their charitable venture spreads like wildfire, and hordes of press soon descend their small village 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 newfound fame.
The show spans 12 months in the Meeting Hall of the Women's Institute Knapeley Branch, Yorkshire, United Kingdom. Willie Sabel (Set Designer), with the help of Christina Sutrov (Props Designer), does an amazing job of maintaining the ambiance of each scene while maintaining the integrity of the Meeting Hall interior.
The play surprises us here and there: it isn't a word-for-word recreation of the movie script, but includes some new lines and big laughs that catch us happily off-guard. Likewise, the production has moments entirely meant for stage and not screen-in particular, its handling of the passing (in this case, quite visual) of Annie's much-loved husband.
Betty Bolton as 'Chris' is without a doubt, just as her character is accused of being throughout the show, a star. Her comedic timing and physical mannerisms help to keep the balance between the sorrow of losing a loved one and the awkward, yet helped with brilliantly placed props, nudity on stage. Though perhaps due to opening night jitters, or the run of the mill mishap, Holly Holowach must have been quite pleased that thanks to brilliantly placed pasties, she was able to avoid showing more of herself than she had originally planned. Nevertheless, opening night went off without a hitch.
Fellow ensemble members include Colleen Rodger Parlee as 'Annie', Holly Holowach as 'Jessie', Dawn Powell as 'Cora', Liz Stone as 'Ruth', and Susan Hawes as 'Celia'.
Calendar Girls runs through February 11th, 2018 at the famed Diamond Head Theatre.