Yorkshire Bounty on Parade: “Calendar Girls” do Lewisville

Selling out! Added performance Thursday Dec. 18: call now to reserve your seat!

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There’s no way around it. Tim Firth’s 2008 stage adaptation of his internationally acclaimed 2003 film Calendar Girls is about as unabashedly steeped in sentimentality as it could get. That’s the bare truth. Currently in its Southwestern premiere at Greater Lewisville Community Theatre through December 21st, the comedy tickles funny bones, reveals teasers of birthday suits and squeezes out tears from audiences fast making it a sell-out production. Directed smartly by Terri Hagar Scherer on a detailed, cleverly unfolding set co-designed by Scherer and George Redford, the play picks up momentum after the first expository scene. It charms its way through various stages of mature women disrobing to a satisfying resolution. Deep thought it isn’t, but all heart and soul, guaranteed.

The brazen ladies plotting their photo shoot with shy photographer Lawrence (Michael McCray)

The brazen ladies plotting their photo shoot with shy photographer Lawrence (Michael McCray)

The film, which cost c. $10 million to make, earned over $96 million before its US release. It’s based loosely on the real life experience of a group of Yorkshire matrons who decided to create a fundraiser with a nude calendar of themselves when the much loved husband of one matron passed on early from cancer. They hoped to raise enough funds to get a new sofa for the local cancer hospital. To date, they have raised well over $5 million for leukemia and lymphoma research. Stage productions follow suit, with casts posing for discreet “in the buff” calendars to sell in venue lobbies for cancer research. GLCT’s splendid version, shot to benefit the North Texas Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, sold out opening weekend. The printer’s cranking out more now for the balance of the run.

Chris (Dena Dunn) shows off the bare reality

Chris (Dena Dunn) shows off the bare reality

Leading the cast with style and verve, Dena Dunn plays Chris (Helen Mirren’s role in the film) with an ever-present twinkle in her eye and believable over-enthusiasm that has her knocking heads together and shedding blouses in no time. Surrounded by a capable, caring bevy of middle-aged women (played by Delynda J. Moravec, Rose Anne Holman, Kay Lamb, Sherry Etzel, Sherri Small and Rita Rogers) Dunn’s Chris shakes everybody out of complacency and works well as a catalyst to inspire each character’s arc. As Chris’ Women’s Club nemesis Marie, Sue Ellen Love brings enough bite to her patronizing role to not seem like a predictable pushover for the exuberant Chris but never become stereotypically evil, either. Male characters appear briefly. Craig Boleman’s energetic Rod balances wife Chris nicely, and Clayton Cunningham earns a burst of applause at curtain call from the appreciative audience for his dignified, loving portrayal of the almost saintly dying John. Michael McCray’s shy photographer speaks volumes about the unusual challenge of his “assignment”.

Calendar Girls is a unique ‘feel good” play about love and self-acceptance, entirely appropriate to the holiday season with a saucy twist.

John (Clayton Cunningham) waxes poetic about Yorkshire sunflowers and the ladies he adores.

John (Clayton Cunningham) waxes poetic about Yorkshire sunflowers and the ladies he adores.

Calendar Girls runs through 12/21, Fridays and Saturdays at 8pm, Sunday at 3pm. Greater Lewisville Community Theatre.

160 W. Main St. Lewisville TX (972) 221-7469 http://www.glct.org/

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