West Bend Theatre Company will be staging CALENDAR GIRLS in May 2023.
In April 1999 a news reporter in the Yorkshire Dales of England was hoping for an interesting photo to illustrate the next day's paper. And did he ever get an interesting photo - and a heartwarming story to go with it. That story is retold on stage in Calendar Girls. The story remains humorous, audacious and fun - with creative staging, props and flowers covering any potential nudity.
WEST BEND THEATRE COMPANY will be staging Calendar Girls on the UWM Theater on the Hill stage May 5, 6, 7, and May 12, 13, 14. Local cast members and community leaders will have their own "alternative calendar" much like the original calendar girls of Yorkshire. In West Bend, the production and calendar is being produced in partnership with Chix 4 A Cause and West Bend Theatre Company.
Roll back to 1999, The ladies of Rylstone WI (a club known as the Women's Institute) came up with a bold and amusing way of raising a few pounds for charity. They had – almost – completely undressed for a charity calendar for (the year) 2000 which had been brought to fruition by the skills of the husband of one of the ladies, photographer, Terry Logan. They hoped the calendar’s launch, which was due to take place the following day, might get a mention in the local paper and The Yorkshire Post. It was clearly worth more than a few paragraphs. But there was one big question; would the images live up to expectations? The photos were a beguiling mix of taste, humor, and audacity.
The entire project was kept secret back in the day. Even the husbands had not been allowed to see the pictures before they were made public. It gave the whole enterprise an added dash of boldness. It was a story that belonged on the front page of any paper. The original newspaper article read: “The menfolk of the quiet hamlet of Rylstone will be choking over their Cornflakes this morning. Their wives have boldly bared all in a calendar which will set middle-aged pulses racing. A dozen ladies from Rylstone and District Women’s Institute near Skipton, decided to disrobe to raise cash for charity.
“Wearing nothing but strategically placed hats and strings of pearls, the WI women posed for tasteful shots to illustrate the first year of the new Millennium. The models are pillars of society, including interior designers, practice managers, businesswomen and artists.”
That was 1999. Then, 2003 brought a British comedy film directed by Nigel Cole. Produced by Touchstone Pictures, it features a screenplay by Tim Firth and Juliette Towhidi, based on their true story about a group of middle-aged Yorkshire women who produced a (nearly) nude calendar to raise money for Leukemia Research under the auspices of the Women's Institutes in April 1999. The husband of one of group's members died from cancer.
The now famous film stars Helen Mirren and Julie Walters, with Linda Bassett, Annette Crosbie, Celia Imrie, Penelope Wilton, Geraldine James, Harriet Thorpe and Philip Glenister playing key supporting roles.
Two decades later, the Calendar Girls have raised millions for charity and retain their hold over the public imagination, thanks to the film, a play and musical they inspired.
Why has their story endured? It is a noble, life-affirming tale. They were a group of women who just wanted to raise money to wipe out the disease that had killed their friend. They challenged convention in a very British way, with tact and self-deprecating humor. Perhaps above all else, they have given hope to everyone who dreams of defeating leukemia.
That's the true story of Calendar Girls. Material used in this article was sourced from:
YorkshirePost.com Calendar Girls revisited: How Rylstone WI took on the world 20 years ago | Yorkshire Post and
Quotes directly from Wikipedia Calendar Girls - Wikipedia
West Bend Theatre Company is holding auditions on January 9 & 10 to permit the production team the needed time to create the calendar, photos and marketing of the production. Rehearsals will begin in March of 2023. Director is area native, Naomi Tiefel. West Bend Theatre Co has already sold tickets for their May performances.