© Guardian photo by Sally Cole
Several cast members take a break from rehearsals for Calendar Girls, which plays tonight, Saturday and Sunday at the Harbourfront Theatre in Summerside. From left, Karen Slater (Lady Cravenshire), Shelley Tamtom (Marie), Nancy Smythe (Cora) and Catherine-Ann Howatt-Dickson (Jessie).
After the success of last year's production of Calendar Girls, the Harbourfront Players ready to reprise the Tim Firth play tonight, Saturday and Sunday
After performing in Calendar Girls last year, the Harbourfront Players are comfortable with striking a pose.
The experience of baring some flesh to create the illusion of nudity has made doing the show a second time easier.
“The actors are definitely comfortable in their own skin,” says director Marlane O’Brien during a break in rehearsals for the re-mount of Calendar Girls that will hit the boards of the Harbourfront Theatre today, Saturday and Sunday.
Based on the Miramax motion picture by Juliette Towhidi and Tim Firth, the play is adapted from the true story of 11 Women’s Institute members who posed nude for a calendar to raise money for the Leukemia Research Fund.
Cast members say last year’s run was a confidence-building exercise.
“The trust is definitely there,” says Catherine-Ann Howatt-Dickson, who is reprising her role as Jessie.
“A sisterhood has formed. Nobody is going to let anything show that shouldn’t show. Everyone is going to protect me, and I’m going to protect everyone else,” she says.
That trust has inspired the Harbourfront Players to take the project one step further. They are producing an actual calendar, like the original WI members.
The players have struck a year of poses, using sunflowers, balls of yarn and other strategically placed props to cover the bare essentials.
At first, this move daunted O’Brien.
“It’s one thing to get yourself into tastefully nude positions and not see them, but it’s a completely different thing when you are confronted then with the results in a calendar,” says O’Brien, who is Miss June.
The challenge, for her, she says, was accepting that she’s getting older.
“Until this calendar, I’ve been carrying around an image of myself that’s about 25 years old,” she says.
But, when she saw the proofs, that image was quickly shattered.
“I know exactly what I look like now,” says O’Brien, with a laugh.
“All kidding aside, it was a positive experience. (After the photo shoot) every woman said, ‘no, that’s me. I’m proud of it,’ “ she says.
Considering the philanthropic nature of Calendar Girls, it was easy for Shelley Tamtom, the actress who plays Marie, the WI chairwoman against the calendar in the play, to jump into the picture frame.
“It was something that I was personally happy and proud to do because of the nature of the story and because we’re doing it to raise money for two worthy causes,” says Tamtom.
This time around, the Children’s Wish Foundation of Canada, P.E.I. chapter and the P.E.I. Cancer Services Volunteering Driving Project will receive a portion of the proceeds from the Calendar Girls ticket and calendar sales.
“They are causes that we believe in because we’ve all had family members who have been affected by cancer and children who have gone through difficult times.
“But, on the lighter side, I’m doing it because I’m not really shy,” laughs Tamtom who will be Miss March.
The enthusiasm of the actors inspires Kieran Keller, the theatre’s general manager, who is pleased that the group has volunteered to do a second run of the performance.
“It was a good show that went over very well, and the players put so much into it in such a short amount of time.
“We also received an outpouring of positive feedback at the box office, so it was easy to bring it back,” says Keller, who, after the departure of Stephen MacDougall, is playing the role of Lawrence, the photographer.
“It’s the best job in the show,” says Keller.
Actor Sandra Sheridan also agrees that it didn’t take a lot of discussion when it came to doing the show again.
“Not only did we love it, we formed a really nice group and the money we raised was very fulfilling — $8,500 for the Prince County Hospital Foundation, last time. They put that toward the fetal heart monitor.
“So when we had the discussion, whether or not to remount the show, it was a pretty easy decision, and everybody was excited about being back on board.”
AT A GLANCE
If you are going
Who: The Harbourfront Players.
What: Calendar Girls.
When: Sept. 20, 21, 7:30 p.m., Sept. 22, 2 p.m.
Where: Harbourfront Theatre in Summerside.
Tickets: Contact the box office at 888-2500 or toll free, 1-800-708-6505.
Website: Go to http://www.