Calendar girls to bare it for charity

Gillian McAinsh

A GROUP of women are going buck-naked for charity next month when they strip off on stage in a Port Elizabeth Musical and Dramatic Society (Pemads) production of the hit play, Calendar Girls.

The 2003 film version of Calendar Girls, starring Helen Mirren and Julie Walters, was the true story of 11 middle-aged British Women’s Institute members who posed nude for a calendar to raise money for the Leukaemia Research Fund.

And, although a couple of experienced Bay theatre hands declined the offer to star in the Bay play, others who were up to the challenge include three teachers who will be giving their pupils a lesson in anatomy as well as drama.

Award-winning director Lesley Barnard has a strong cast which includes Rose Cowpar, Yolande Farrow, Holly Milne, Vanessa Smith, Hilary Coombe-Davis, Tanya Taylor, Liz Yates, Isobel McTiffin, Helen Wilkins, Mark Farrow, Greg Everard, Anton Steyn and Robert van den Ordel.

Their ages range from the mid-30s to 70s, as in the original play.

Stage veteran Linda-Louise Swain – who starred in the explicit Vagina Monologues – was one of those who turned down an invitation to audition.

“I still have to teach in this town, you know! It’s one thing to say ‘a p*** from Pretoria’ on stage, but to bare it is a whole other ballgame!” Swain said.

That has not deterred teachers Farrow (Priory), Steyn (Westering) and Everard (Alexander Road) however – although Farrow drew the line at having her sexy calendar shot with strategically placed teapot, cup and cakes published in The Herald.

“She said she just couldn’t imagine standing in front of the matric boys if they had a copy of the paper – and what about the headmaster!” Barnard said with a chuckle.

However, she said, the audience would be “lucky to see anything” on stage as most of the nudity was covered by props.

Pemads will present the British play, described as “dazzlingly funny, shamelessly sentimental and utterly captivating” at the Pemads Little Theatre from August 21 to 31.

In accordance with the rights, funds will be raised for cancer research through the sale of a calendar.

The calendar will be sold at the theatre during the course of the production, with all funds going to the Igazi Foundation and to the cancer unit at the Provincial Hospital.

Galas have already been sold for several performances, with the preview gala on August 19 in aid of Cansa.

  • Bookings have opened at Computicket or are available from cast members.

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