NME Review: Calendar Girls
While I have my moments of enjoying productions I'm familiar with, I look forward to the ones I don't. I knew Calendar Girls was a film, but I have yet to see it. Entering the doors of the Adobe Theater, I didn't know what to expect. The audience, older, and the theme of the production expected it. But even with a cast that is older than other productions around town, the message is one that many can relate to at any age - finding your place and purpose after being defined by others and developing bonds with those you might never expect.
The play is a true story of a group of middle-aged women from a Yorkshire Women's Institute. After the death of a friend, the women decide to pose nude for a calendar to raise money for a local hospital. It beautifully captures the spirit of female empowerment, friendship, and the courage to challenge societal norms.
The performances by the cast are outstanding! Stephanie Jones delivers a heartfelt and nuanced portrayal of the lead character, Chris. Rhonda Sigler-Ware's depiction of Annie was breathtaking - playing the heart-grieving widow who soon realizes her voice is what is needed to put things in order. Cora, played by Michelle Bunzel, was the youngest on the cast but held her own among the talented ensemble. I was incredibly impressed with her comedic timing. Duchess Duke as Ruth seems to ground the ladies, but don't let those quiet moments fool you. Georgia Athearn as Jessie was a delight. I enjoyed it when she shared how she felt about Elaine. Last but certainly not least, taking triple duty in this production. Carolyn Hogan, as Celia, is bold and unapologetic - something she wishes more of the women in her town would be. I also have to give a shoutout to Diane Segara as Brenda. She made me laugh the minute she stepped on stage. The chemistry between the actresses is palpable, and their camaraderie shines bright. The direction by Nancy Sellin is commendable, as he manages to handle the sensitive subject matter with grace and sensitivity. The pacing is well-maintained, and the story unfolds in a captivating manner.
One of the play's strengths is its ability to tackle serious themes such as loss, grief, and body image while maintaining a lighthearted and uplifting tone. It celebrates the beauty of friendship and the power of women supporting each other. It also highlights the importance of embracing one's true self when finding the courage to break free from other's expectations.
Overall, Calendar Girls is a delightful and heartwarming play that will leave you with a smile. It is a testament to the strength of female friendships and the indomitable spirit of women.
Calendar Girls runs through September 24, 2023, at The Adobe Theater, 9813 4th Street NW. For tickets and information, please visit www.adobetheater.org.