A group of women in a village in Yorkshire gather regularly at the local church for WI* meetings. Wikipedia tells me that the Women's Institute is "a community-based organisation for women" with goals including "providing women with educational opportunities and the chance to build new skills, enabling them to take part in a wide variety of activities, campaigning on issues that matter to them and their communities." Which in this case means practicing Tai Chi, hosting speakers on the history of the tea towel, and of course, producing the annual calendar. The members include single mother Cora (Laurel Armstrong), flower shop owner and rebel Chris (Charity Jones), new widow Annie (Christina Baldwin), retired school teacher Jessie (Linda Kelsey), bored and buxom city slicker Celia (Carolyn Pool), and sweet and demure Ruth (Shanan Custer). This range of women all get something different from the WI, but mostly it's a place of support, companionship, and community as they navigate their lives. When Chris suggests they pose nude for a calendar to raise money in memory of Annie's beloved husband John (John Middleton), the women agree with varying degrees of reluctance. Despite disapproval from WI leadership, including the stern Marie (Julia Cook), the women persevere and are even more successful than they dreamed, discovering a newfound strength and love for one another in the process.
|a little liquid courage to prepare for the photo shoot|
(Linda Kelsey, Carolyn Pool, Laurel Armstrong, Charity Jones,
and Christina Baldwin, photo by Petronella J. Ytsma)
|"we're going to need bigger buns" (photo by Petronella J. Ytsma)|
Twin Cities Theater Bloggers' first partnership with Park Square Theatre. We hosted a special event at the Sunday matinee. Prior to the show Executive Director Michael-jon Pease gave a short talk about how there used to be only two theater critics in town, and their word was law. But due to the decline of printed media and the rise of the internet, there are now a multitude of voices discussing Twin Cities Theater. One of the goals of TCTB is to engage the audience, build community, and provide a place for discussion of the amazing theater we're lucky enough to have in this town. After the show, our bloggers Carol of Minnesota Theater Love and Becki of Compendium were joined onstage by members of the cast for a post-show discussion. We had a great turnout of actors and audience, and a wonderful discussion of the show, theater in general, and theater commentary (I loved Charity's response to the question "do you read reviews?" - she does read them out of interest in people's perspectives, but she doesn't give them power over her or her performance). We hope to continue to partner with Park Square and other theaters in town to enrich the theater-going experience for all audience members.
In the meantime, get your ticket to see this joyful, heart-warming show, playing through July 24 (and one of my summer must-see shows). Someone said that the best emotion is laughter through tears. If you agree, Calendar Girls is definitely for you. (Discount tickets available on Goldstar).
|post-show discussion with Linda Kelsey, Shanan Custer, Julia Cook,|
Bill McCallum, Carolyn Pool, John Middleton, and Charity Jones,
hosted by Becki and Carol
*My friends at Minnesota Theater Love found this awesome article about the WI, highlighting the things that women can do and the power that we have when we band together.