The original Calendar Girls


Calendar Girls

Dates and Venue 27 February - 22 March 2009 @ 7.30 p.m. | Teatro Laurence Olivier, San Jose, Costa Rica

Reviewer Ed Farolan

This play is based on a true story which was made into an award-winning British film that starred Helen Mirren about a group of middle-aged women from the Knapely chapter of the Women’s Institute who came up with the idea of a calendar with them posing nude while engaged in everyday activities, such as baking and knitting. When Annie Clarke’s (Karen Rae) husband John (David Charnock) dies from leukaemia at an early age, her close friend Chris Harper (Vicky Longland), comes up with an idea to raise funds in order to purchase a comfortable sofa for the visitors' lounge in the hospital where he was treated, and thus, the idea of printing a calendar featuring some of the members of the chapter discreetly posing nude.

I had the chance to talk to some of the actors and the director, Caroline Kennedy, before the show. Kennedy adapted the film version for the stage, and she told me that the original screenwriters, Tim Firth and Juliette Towhidi have also adapted a stage version of their screenplay which is now showing in London.

This was quite an amusing show, a cute version, so to speak, of Full Monty, another film based on a true stroy of unemployed steel workers in England who decide to do a male strip show. Kennedy said that her version was completely different from the London stage version mostly because of the limited space she had to work with. She used multi-media techniques, particularly film, to fill in what couldn't be staged because of stage limitations, where scenes like meetings and the airplane scene were filmed instead of staged.

The actors are expats mostly from England,Canada and the US who like most retired pensioners fly south for the sun. I spoke to Debby Jean a retired professor from Michigan who told me she was a first-time actress to this Little Theatre Group which produces around five shows a year. Most of their proceeds go to fund-raising and scholarships.

It's quite a big cast of 16 actors, some playing multiple roles both onstage and backstage, such as co-stage manager Phil Copeland who plays the lecherous photographer and almost steals the show with his 15 second appearance.

Stage versions of films are really difficult to adapt, because film locations are varied and trying to put multiple locations on stage is truly a complicated feat. So I must congratulate Caroline Kennedy for doing an amazing job.

For those living in the San Jose are and are reading this review, which is part of our "Beyond Vancouver" program where we review shows outside of Vancouver, the show runs till the 22nd and you'll surely have an enjoyable evening of laughter from these nutty actors,.

© 2009 Ed Farolan