Calendar Girls Review - All Together in the All-Together

Based on the film authored by Juliette Towhidi and Tim Firth and adapted for the stage by Tim Firth, CALENDAR GIRLS now steps from celluloid to the live stage at the Lonny Chapman Theatre. Directed by award-winning Larry Eisenberg, this hilarious tale will keep the audience laughing right to the end. Audience alert: be prepared for some brief partial nudity and mild adult themes.

Doug Haverty and Lauren Peterson - Photo by Drina Durazo

Annie (Lauren Peterson) is desolate because her husband has died from cancer. To honor his memory, her best friend Chris, a lively Yorkshire housewife, hopes to raise money for the Leukemia Research Fund in his name. When Chris (Michele Bernath) outlines her plan to her conservative middle-aged friends in the village - that they pose for a nude calendar, each lady representing a month and photographed unclothed - they are horrified at first. This is a very scary idea - but also intriguing and increasingly titillating. Soon they are all on board – and the ride after that is refreshing and lots of fun.

Belinda Howell and LizAnne Keigley - Photo by Drina Durazo

The ladies of Yorkshire (LizAnne Keigley, Vesna Tolomanoska, Cheryl Crosland Butler, and Julie Davis) evolve into a merry bunch who never realized how bored they were with their stuffy existence until they were led to an unveiling (literally and figuratively) of their deepest desires by iconoclast Chris. CALENDAR GIRLS shines when the moment comes to photograph the ambivalent women. Laughs abound as they get just a bit tipsy preparing for the “big moment” – with a male photographer in attendance, no less! This rollicking scene (hereinafter referred to as “The Scene”) is worth the price of the entire production.

`Vesna Tolomanoska and James Guinn - Photo by Drina Durazo

On the positive side, the talented cast is energetic and enthusiastic as they flesh out the Yorkshire ladies, each with her own special personality and approach. Director Larry Eisenberg manages to individualize the members of the cast as he skillfully helms the production. The entire production team does a bang-up job of bringing the world of these CALENDAR GIRLS to life.

Cheryl Crosland Butler and Julie Davis - Photo by Drina Durazo

At the same time, however, the play seems a bit overlong. The pacing sometimes appeared to be a little slow; and some skilled editing would probably have helped – especially at the beginning of the first act. Towards the end of the second act, a rather contrived conflict was thrown in which may not have been essential to plot development. The brightest and funniest moments in the play (“The Scene”) brought together all the fears and fun and helped focus the piece. Too many details before and after “The Scene” only serve to dilute the overall effect. Despite these relatively minor issues, CALENDAR GIRLS is a delightful production; and the audience is guaranteed to leave the show smiling.

Michele Bernath and Lauren Peterson - Photo by Drina Durazo

CALENDAR GIRLS runs through October 9, 2016, with performances at 8 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays and at 2 p.m. on Sundays. The Lonny Chapman Theatre is located at 10900 Burbank Blvd., North Hollywood, CA 91601. Tickets are $25 (seniors/students $20). For information and reservations, call 818-763-5990 or go online.         

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