“Calendar Girls” Bust Out the Laughs
by Shirley Lorraine
First, it happened. Then it became a hit movie. Now it is hitting stages across the country and the world. A delightful lightweight romp based on a real event, “Calendar Girls” centers around a stalwart and staid British women’s organization, the Women’s Institute Association, referred to as the WI.
Their fundraising goal for the present year is to raise money to purchase a settee for the currently dismal waiting area in a hospital cancer wing in honor of one of the members’ husband who recently deceased from the disease.
But when the subject of their annual calendar comes up, members of the group opt to stray from the usual fare of churches, bridges and landscapes. Instead, a handful of them decide to bare “most” in a calendar layout using themselves as the models with props representative of the club’s standard focus of baking, knitting and gardening. As members of the WI of Knapeley in the Yorkshire Dales, they are less invested in the traditional than they are in finding new ways to achieve the same ends, having more fun in the process. With the encouragement of a cause, the ladies employ a young photographer (Andrew Garrett) to make the project a reality.
Director Judy Blake opted to forgo the English accents while keeping the idioms of the language, which did work well. Despite some unfamiliar references, the cast delivers a spun-candy froth with emotional undertones that periodically brings the audience back to terra firma. The meaning behind the effort struck a chord with many in the audience.
Cast members include Helen Benjamin, Karla Marie, Angela DeCicco, Rosalee Calvillo, Laura Ring, and Nancy Hullihan as the “Calendar Girls”. Marilyn Lazik, Allan Noel, Ray Mastrovito, Andrew Garrett, Leslie Nichols, Penni Blum, Anthony Baldonado, and Joyce McWilliams fill in the rest of the story.
All of the participants embrace their characters with enthusiasm and varying levels of skill that emphasize the realism they are portraying. The cast works as an ensemble – each providing unique mannerisms and body language, and each adding to the storyline both in minor and major ways. Each character has at least one moment to shine in the spotlight, securing the feeling of unity and friendly rivalry that belonging to a women’s group can elicit.
Angela DeCicco gives a solid performance throughout as Cora, the musical director. Laura Ring dives into her role as the resident “tart” with abandon. Helene Benjamin and Karla Holland as the catalysts for the effort clearly depict the friendship bond that drives them. In the role of the reluctant Ruth, Nancy Hullihan is reserved until pushed to her limit. Rosalee Calvillo as Jessie brings her own seasoning to the mix.
Adding a regal touch in a cameo role is SPTC long-time producer Leslie Nichols. Nichols wins the best hat award for her stunning creation which she wears with a strong air of ownership.
SPTC winds up its 2016 season with a delightful diversionary presentation. If you want to catch this one, make your reservation soon.
through Dec 18. Friday & Saturday eves 8 PM
Reservations are highly recommended to ensure
a seat for this popular show.
ALL Sunday 2:30PM performances are already SOLD OUT!
Adults $20, Students and Seniors $18