Curtain Call: Calendar Girls – naked or nude?

Community Theatre at Woodbury: While there’s no doubt about what “The Full Monty” means in the musical with the same name — the men are going to take it all off — there’s some debate in the play “Calendar Girls” now playing in Woodbury as to whether the members of the Women’s Institute (WI) are naked or nude in their fund-raising calendar.

In the Community Theatre at Woodbury (CTAW), one woman tells the calendar women that they’ve posed naked! Another chimes in that “It’s not naked. It’s nude.” Still another woman asks “What’s the difference?” Then the answer comes with full force: “Art.”

“Calendar Girls” is a play by Tim Firth, based on the film of the same name. The plot really focuses on friendship and trust, but nudity becomes a component of that trust. It all starts when members of the WI decide to raise funds for a hospital settee in honor of Annie’s late husband who died of cancer. Instead of selling cookies or crafts, Chris suggests that the women create a calendar with members posing sans clothes.

While the calendar posers decide whether or not they should go through with the plan, they reveal important aspects of their own lives. One woman knows that her husband has been cheating on her. Another woman is a single mom who gets no support from her religious father. In the process of these revelations, the actors manage to get the audience laughing. True to the essence of the play, they also win some empathy. Though the women were hoping to sell the calendars locally, the media picks up on these mature women posing without their clothes and the calendar becomes a national success.

Along with the success comes fame, which brings out the best and worst in the women. Ultimately, the calendar raised far more than enough money to buy a new couch in the hospital’s lounge. It raised enough money to name an entire wing in honor of Annie’s husband.

However, Chris, who came up with the idea to begin with, gets carried away by the celebrity status and is willing to do just about anything for a television commercial. That’s when the single mother and church soloist/organist walks out along with all the other calendar girls.

The acting in this production is of varying levels of accomplishment, but well directed by Maureen Denver. The cast features: Lisa Goldberg, Shannon Sniffin, Liz Jaffin, Teresa Moran, Danielle Shaker, Ashley Blackwell, M. Ellie Stankus, Jan Marino, Rob Koelmel, Dennis Walsh, May Bernhard, David Macharelli and Jack Kearney.

The set is lacking and certainly the lighting leaves a lot to be desired. However, this is a relatively new theater featuring some new talent. Overall, the show is entertaining.

It plays through May 20. Box office: 203-263-3113.

Joanne Greco Rochman is a founding member of the Connecticut Critics Circle and is an active member in the American Theatre Critics Association. She welcomes comments. Contact: [email protected].

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Joanne Greco Rochman is an active member in The American Theatre Critics Association. She welcomes comments. Contact: [email protected]

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