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Mark your calendars

“Calendar Girls” cast members (from left) Michelle LeMay, Nola Doiron and Joanne Wilkinson are pictured during rehearsals. - Brian Clarkson photo
“Calendar Girls” cast members (from left) Michelle LeMay, Nola Doiron and Joanne Wilkinson are pictured during rehearsals.
— image credit: Brian Clarkson photo

A hit play based on a hit film is going to be lighting up stages in Kimberley and Cranbrook early next month.

The Off-Centre Players are putting on "Calendar Girls," originally a comedy featuring Helen Mirren, as a fundraiser for the East Kootenay Foundation for Health.

Making the production extra special is the fact that the play is making a rare two-community run — five shows at Centre 64 in Kimberley and five at the Studio Stage Door in Cranbrook.

Not only that, but as befits the original productions, a calendar featuring the actors is being produced.

"When this play became identified, Kimberley's Off Centre Players decided they wanted to do it," said director Terry Miller. "Liz Adler contacted me and asked if I'd be willing to direct. And the more I looked into it, the more I could recognize the strength of the play as a cancer awareness-raiser — another opportunity to stand up for the battle — so I agreed."

"Calendar Girls", based on a true story, follows a group of women — part of a church group. One of the women's husbands, John Clark, has recently passed away from cancer. In honour of him, the women set out to raise money to buy a new sofa in the relatives room at the hospital where John passed away.

The group realizes that their usual ways of fundraising won’t raise enough, so as a lark they decide to produce a calendar with themselves as models. They need to raise £590, but end up raising £5,900.

“Calendar Girls” features a stellar cast of local actors, including:  Killeen Delorme, Susan Hanson, Joanne Wilkinson, Michelle McCue, Nola Doiron, Michelle LeMay, Maureen Smith, Sioban Staplin, Tylene Turner, Brigitte Franyo, Barry Borgstrom, Thom McCaughey, Jerrod Bondy and Andy Rogers.

“The lovely cast and crew are the heart and soul of this project,” Miller said, “and bring their own experiences and wisdom to their characters.”

Miller added that an interesting part of the play is that “every night these six brave, conservative, run-of-the-mill  women will discreetly disrobe in front of the audience at the end of each play in support of the cause.”

A real calendar is also being created as a fundraiser. Local photographer Brian Clarkson did the shoot. And as in the original productions, the actors themselves are serving as models.

Producer Liz Adler said they hope to sell out the entire run of the play and donate $2,000 to the EKFH. They hope to raise another $5,000 from calendar sales.

“Our goal is to sell 500 calendars in May, and 500 over the remainder of the year and raise roughly $7,000,” Adler said. “So in total we are definitely hoping that we can donate a total of $9,000 to the East Kootenay Foundation for Health from this project.”

Calendars will cost $13 and all proceeds will go to the EKFH. Calendars can be bought at the same locations as the tickets — the Snowdrift Café in Kimberley and Lotus Books in Cranbrook.

“Calendar Girls” will run at Centre 64 in Kimberley from Tuesday, May 6 to May 10, and then in Cranbrook from May 13 to 17 at the Stage Door. Show time at both venues is 7:30 p.m.

Tickets for the Kimberley shows can be bought at the Snowdrift Café, and tickets for the Cranbrook shows can be bought at Lotus Books. Tickets are $20, with 10 per cent going to the EKFH.

“It’s a touching story. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry and you’ll come away feeling somewhat refreshed,” Miller said.

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