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East Lancashire theatre companies make a date for Calendar Girls
The members of Rylstone and District Women’s Institute became famous when they stripped off to pose for an ‘Alternative WI Calendar’.
The Calendar Girls shot to international fame when over 200,000 copies of the calendar were sold, and to date have raised more than £3million for Leukaemia And Lymphoma Research.
A Hollywood movie starring Helen Mirren and and a stage play followed. Now from September, amateur theatre companies can perform the story for local audiences.
Five East Lancashire theatre companies have productions planned over the next 12 months — which will see amateur actresses baring all, their modesty protected by a series of props and clever lighting.
First to take to the stage are the Calendar Girls of Chorley Amateur Dramatic and Operatic Society, where the play opens on September 1, followed by Burnley society The Garrick later in the month.
Taking the lead there is Viv Thornber, of Nelson, a seasoned performer not afraid to admit her nerves ahead of recreating Helen Mirren’s role of Chris.
“We knew where it was going to go from the offset,” she said.
“But I think we will be extremely nervous about taking our clothes off, even though nothing is revealed — it’s tastefully done.
“We’re going to be raising money for Leukaemia Research too, and I admire the ladies who did this first and think ‘If you can damned well do it, so can we’.”
With the women’s friendships at the heart of the story, the bond among cast members is a key element of the production — and something drama teacher Sue Hilton, who will play Chris for in the Chorley production, is revelling in.
“I’m really enjoying it. We are having such fun at rehearsals. It has to be such a team and that relationship has to come across,” she said.
“We have had the calendar photos done and are getting ready to get on with it now. It’s such a moving piece, we are all in tears at the end of rehearsals.
“My character Chris does get a little carried away but eventually comes back to the friendship. She’s the one who has reved up the girls for the calendar.
“I’m apprehensive (about revealing all) but I feel confident it’s going to be well rehearsed. That said, if you’d asked me 12 months ago ‘Would you do it?, I’m not so sure I’d have said yes.”
- Calendar Girls, performed by Chorley Amateur Dramatic and Operatic Society,Chorley Little Theatre from September 1 to 8; by the Garrick at the ACE Centre, Nelson, from September 24 to 29; by TAODS at Todmorden Hippodrome from October 10 to 13; by Bacup Amateur Operatic and Dramatic Society at the Royal Court Theatre from March 20 to 23; and by Blackburn Arts Club from May 20 to 25.
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