BWW Previews: WOMEN OF CALENDAR GIRLS BARE MUCH MORE THAN THEIR HEARTS at Powerstories

BWW Previews: WOMEN OF CALENDAR GIRLS BARE MUCH MORE THAN THEIR HEARTS at Powerstories
Photo by Powerstories

After the loss of her husband, Annie and her best friend Chris decide to fundraise for a new settee for the cancer wing of their local hospital. The idea to raise money is through a calendar, but they know boring pictures of flowers, sunsets, and pets won't cut it. The women of Women's Institute need big numbers and decide to recruit their members for a controversial platform: themselves, raw, perfectly imperfect and in the buff. What's better than skin to sell a calendar?

The fastest selling play in British history based on a true story, set in Yorkshire, Calendar Girls opens tonight at Powerstories and runs through October 21.

Directed by Bridget Bean, Calendar Girls features the talents of Emily Kochanski, Samantha Parisi, Lucinda Schlotterback, Vivienne Brown, Melody Craven, Trish Farber, Donna DeLonay, Jen Casler, Larry Corwin, Jim Moss, Jen Casler, and Gershom Vacarizas.

Bridget was excited to bring a British production, specifically from where she's from, to stage. "I kind of have an affinity with these women. While directing, I wanted to bring out the things that were specifically English and Yorkshire while also making sure it was a universal theme.

"The key to the play is everyone has an arch they go through. It's an inspiring and funny play, and I wanted to make sure I pulled those elements out and put them into the tapestry of this whole group of women, all their different issues going on and the chaos of making a calendar. This is a celebration of friendship. It's funny, heartwarming and quirky. If you enjoy a good laugh and great comedy, this is really going to be a good night out for you."

Bridget said that play shows when you step outside of your comfort zone, you can do great things.

BWW Previews: WOMEN OF CALENDAR GIRLS BARE MUCH MORE THAN THEIR HEARTS at Powerstories
Photo by Powerstories

"The story celebrates being mature women who are confident in themselves. All of the photos that they take are things they would normal do in WI - sewing, playing instruments, making jam and cakes - all these very things middle-aged ladies tend to do, but doing them naked," said Samantha Parisi who plays Chris Harper.

Though the cast was initially very nervous about taking it all off, Samantha explained that things were covered very strategically.

"None of us are supermodel material. We're just average people, but it got easier the more we did it," she said. "It's all done in fun and good taste. It's touching and I think the audience will identity with the characters, their growth and their increasing confidence."

Bridget believes after the show, the audience will be talking about the comedy, the moments in the play that made them, but more importantly, how beautiful and brave the women were - the actresses in the play and the real women on which the show is based.

"The theatre is a small intimate theatre, so you are going to get a wonderful experience. There's limited number of seats, so book early. The cast is really tremendous. There are women in this cast that I've wanted to work with for years - all from different backgrounds. They're all wonderful and have a special charisma and I feel really fortunate to be able to put that cast together."

Though each actress has a great monologue that tells their story, Samantha revealed her favorite line from the production: "You know if more people did W.I. there'd be half as much need for hallucinogenic drugs!"

Just like the Powerstories Theatre that hosts it, the play Calendar Girls is about empowering women, comparing them to beautiful sunflowers that show up thorough the production.

Samantha explained how a statement that Annie's husband says about his favorite flower directly applies to the show: "Sunflowers represent life and the last phase is the most glorious. Every stage has in own beauty, but the last stage is the most glorious."

See Calendar Girls now through October 21 at Powerstories, 2105 W. Kennedy Blvd., Tampa. Tickets are $25 general admission, $20 seniors, and $15 student and military with ID. Learn more at www.powerstories.com and follow of Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.

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From This Author Deborah Bostock-Kelley

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