Baring all for charity



BLUE HILL — Laughter, knitting, pastries and flowers have filled the Blue Hill Town Hall Theater as New Surry Theatre rehearses Tim Firth’s comedy “Calendar Girls” about the Yorkshire women who posed nude for a calendar to raise funds for leukemia research. The production opens Friday, May 25, and runs for three weekends.

“Calendar Girls” is based on a true story of about the Women’s Institute (WI) in Yorkshire, England, whose members decided to pose naked for a benefit calendar after a member’s husband died of the disease. The story was first made into a Miramax film starring Helen Mirren and has since toured the globe as a popular play.

“My inspiration for the piece has been to honor, as much as possible, the original story that actually took place,” says the theater’s artistic director, Johannah Blackman. “It’s a powerful story without any additional frills. A look at what happens when a community collectively holds grief and friendship together and allows both to transform everyone involved.”

New Surry’s production stars Rebecca Poole, Glenon Friedmann, Vanessa Hawkins, Cherie Magnello, Lori Sitzabee and Veronica Young as the “calendar girls.” Alison Cox plays the stringent head of the Knapely WI while Matt Murphy is Annie’s husband, John, and Hoyt Hutchins plays the young photographer the ladies enlist to help them make their calendar.

Costumes are by Elena Bourakovsky. Judy Taylor and a group of talented artists have brought the hills of Yorkshire to the Blue Hill Town Hall stage.

The film and stage version of the story follow six members of the WI’s Yorkshire chapter. When Annie’s husband dies of leukemia, she and her best friend, Chris, resolve to raise money for a new settee in the local hospital waiting room. They convince four fellow WI members to pose nude with them for an “alternative” calendar.

The calendar becomes a huge success, their story gains international attention, and all involved find themselves examining their lives through the lens of their newfound fame.

“This story is a tribute to the strength of women and friendship,” says Blackman. “Each of the women involved starts the play feeling trapped in their lives in some way. The events of the play draw out the strength these ladies always had.”

Performances are at 7 p.m. Friday-Saturday, May 25-26 and Friday-Saturday, June 1-2 and June 8-9 and at 3 p.m. Sunday, May 27 and June 10. Tickets cost $15 per adult and $12 for students and seniors.

A special benefit performance will be staged at 3 p.m. on Sunday, June 3, for the Cancer Support Center of Maine. Benefit tickets cost $20 per person and can be reserved by calling 322-0960.

Please note the production contains partial nudity and may not be appropriate for very young audiences.

To reserve seats, call 200-4720 and visit www.newsurrytheatre.org.