Tuesday, May 17, 2022
REVIEW: CCP'S "CALENDAR GIRLS" SUCCESSFULLY MARRIES COMEDY WITH SERIOUS IDEAS
By Ruth Ross
If you’re a fan of the PBS series All Creatures Great and Small, then you are familiar with the England’s Yorkshire Dales, a rural landscape featuring rolling hills dotted with sheep and cattle farms and small villages located in down in the valleys—a place where agricultural shows and festivals are often the highlights of the year.
To foster a sense of community amidst far-flung homesteads, an organization called the Women’s Institute was founded in 1915 to “give women a voice and to be a force for good in the community…while [making] friends and…a difference in [the] community.” This organization and the Yorkshire Dales provide the setting for Calendar Girls, by Juliette Towhidi and Tim Firth, currently running at the Chatham Playhouse through May 22.
One fun thing about the Chatham Players is that they have a solid troupe of returning players who are very comfortable being onstage together and, in this case, seem to be having a grand time doing it. On a parish hall set designed by Roy Pancirov (supplemented by fold-out panels that transport us to the Dales) and under Joseph Porter’s direction, the cast of nine women and two men exhibit their nifty comedic timing, much to the merriment of the audience!
The action unfolds throughout the year, marked by costumes designed by Fran Harrison (below), lighting by Ed Pearson, and sound by Gordon Wiener. Each character gets a star turn to perform a speech or get into an argument: Sturdevant’s Jessie riffs on old age, Langone’s Chris argues with Annie about the effects of fame, and when Barnett’s Ruth reveals her marital woes, she really tugs at the heart.
Calendar Girls is a feel-good comedy with serious ideas in the subtext. How far will one go to perform a good deed? Can one be too old to show a little skin, especially for a worthy cause? What is the nature of fame? Can one look beyond one’s own suffering to ease that of others? You’ll laugh a lot at the antics of these brave women, and you’ll think about and discuss the questions raised by the fruits of their exploits.
Calendar Girls will be performed at the Chatham Playhouse, 23 N. Passaic Ave., Chatham, through May 21. For information and tickets, call 973-635-7363 or visit www.chathamplayers.org online.
Posted by Ruth Ross