I love, I love, I love my calendar girls! This show was funny and touching and provides a wonderful night out at the theatre. Calendar Girls, based on a Miramax film by Juliette Towhidi and Tim Firth, is about love and friendship. This warm and funny play follows a group of (mostly) middle aged women, who set out to raise money to honor the memory of a loved one. They believe so strongly in their cause, that they would give the shirts off their backs to reach their goal, and they do…right on stage.
There was a bit of a slow start with pace and character chemistry, but a few scenes into act one and these ladies not only became best friends…they became MY friends. Sarah Greene (Ruth) who is one of the six main women in the story was one of the clearest characters out of the gate. When she spoke or moved, I knew who she was and that she was on a journey to be watched. Janet Dixon (Jessie) was another stand out with her dry delivery of punch lines. Debbie Lake (Annie) and Kathryn Pawloski (Chris) are a delightful and playful duo who navigate easily between the comedic and heartbreaking moments. Jeanne Cadena (Cora) and Elise Williams (Celia) are also both incredibly funny and inherently likeable. By the end of act one, you honestly can’t decide which of these ladies is your favorite; and after their famed ‘photo shoot’ you are awestruck by how beautiful these confident women are.
I do want to give a notable mention to the spot-on casting of Ed Borus, Elizabeth Dewey, and Cameron Pichan in their respective roles. These actors all welcome you in to such a real, human experience; one that is based in a true story.
The set design by Tyler Leonard is simple and theatrical. It gives a hint of the surrounding world and trusts the audience to use their imagination to fill in the rest. The use of color in the outdoor scenes is particularly lovely. Several of the transitions between scenes were a tad messy or slow; however, I found myself wondering if time was added into the transitions simply to allow more of the music to take ahold of the audience.
The sound design by Tyler Leonard and Susan Craves, particularly the music choices, were well done. Each musical transition added to the feel of the scenes and guided the audience in the desired emotional direction.
David Newsham’s lighting design, gave the show the warmth it needed and the implied slideshow at the beginning was an added fun use of color.
The costumes, by Cindy Moelter, Rhonda Branch, and Liz Dewey, mostly felt natural and told a story through color. Costumes transitioned from cools, to lack of color, and eventually ending in a world of warmth to support the journey of the characters.
Opening night may have had a few hiccups, but from an audience point of view, Director Susan Craves made this show exactly what it needed to be: It makes you care about the characters, it reminds you to care about others, and it makes you leave the theatre feeling a bit more comfortable in your own skin. Bravo!
Show runs Jan 26th, 27th & 28th & Feb 1st, 2nd, 3rd &4th
Thursday, Friday, Saturday at 7:30pm Sunday at 3:00pm
Box office: 989-893-5555