SUMMERSIDE — The performers in “Calendar Girls” have taken their efforts to raise money for charity a revealing step further.
© Buffie Boily Photographic Arts
The "Calendar Girls" – Sandra Sheridan (left), Stephanie Betts, Sue Urquhart, Catherine Ann Dickson, Nancy Smythe and Sara McCarthy – are back. The Harbourfront Players will be restaging the production beginning Sept. 20 at Harbourfront Theatre in Summerside.
The actresses in the cast have shed their inhibitions — and clothes — much like their characters do in the play, which opens tonight at the Harbourfront Theatre, for a calendar, the proceeds of which will aid cancer patients and help grant a wish.
When “Calendar Girls” was first staged by the Harbourfront Players $8,500 was raised and donated to the Prince County Hospital Foundation.
“There was a demand. Every theatre company wants to hear there was a demand. Many people, the first time, were coming up to individual people, cast members, and asking if we would do it again,” said Sue Urquhart, who portrays Annie. “We started getting excited when we talked about, if we do bring it back, which charities would we support? In the end, that’s what did it.”
Strategically placed teacups and teapots, flowers, lobster traps, a piano, an award and various other props conceal the nudity of the mostly middle-aged women in the calendar, shot by award-winning photographer Buffie Boily.
“It was terrifying,” admitted Urquhart. “It’s like going to the dentist, the thought of doing it was terrifying, but when we got there that morning and the camaraderie of everybody and the love in the room and Buffie’s brilliance, you just felt damn proud after you did it.”
Urquhart’s props were teapots and teacups.
“Sue’s is beautiful and soft and romantic,” said fellow cast member and calendar girl Sandra Sheridan. “It is lovely and old-fashioned in that hall with all the teapots. It’s like a tea party for one, naked.”
The calendar features the six actresses — Urquhart, Sheridan, Nancy Smythe, Catherine Ann Dickson, Sara McCarthy and Stephanie Betts — who portray the main characters in the play.
Also featured are the show’s director, Marlane O’Brien, assistant stage managers Donna Gorrill and Juliana Elsinga, and Susan Rodgers, Karen Slater and Shelley Tanton, who have minor roles in the production.
Seaview Hall, where the cast rehearsed, provided the backdrop.
“We used the inside and outside and the beach,” said Sheridan, who shot her photo in a field of sunflowers. “It was quite a nice combination.”
Urquhart said a year ago she would never have gotten up the nerve to pose nude. But, she added, it was doing the play that helped her and the other women in the cast come to love their bodies, flaws and all.
“It has been such a growing experience for all of us and, talking about a woman’s beauty as she ages and the love and how beautiful we all are, that’s what we felt in the room that day,” said Urquhart. “Buffie mentioned airbrushing and we said, no.”
Proceeds from the show and calendar sales will be split between two charities — the Children’s Wish Foundation, P.E.I. Chapter and the Cancer Services Volunteer Driving Program.
“This is a beautiful group of women and, again, women are, period. Women are beautiful,” said Urquhart.
Sheridan added, “And it’s a beautiful story. It’s such a powerful, poignant story. The real story that happened in England 13 years ago and all the events that have happened since all over the world with women because of that story.”
A total of 1,000 calendars, which will be sold for $20 apiece, have been printed. The hope is to raise, between the show and the calendars, at least $20,000.
“Calendar Girls” goes tonight and Saturday at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m.
Calendars are available to purchase at the show, by contacting the Children’s Wish Foundation, at Samuel’s Coffee House, the Harbourfront Theatre or by contacting any member of the cast.