The Collective Face Theatre Ensemble is ready for its close-up.
The local troupe is sending out a diverse and fabulous season of drama, music, and side-splitting comedy with Calendar Girls.
Many will recognize the show from the 2003 film starring Helen Mirren and Julie Walters. A stage adaptation was unveiled as a part of the Chichester Theatre Festival in 2008; Collective Face director David I.L. Poole, a devoted fan of the film, was eager to get his hands on the script.
“I knew they were doing it in England, and I was like, ‘Oh, I want this!’” says Poole.
He was quick to contact Samuel French, who holds the rights to Calendar Girls, and get the scoop on a U.S. release. As soon as it became available, Poole snapped the script up.
There have only been two other productions in Georgia, so Collective Face is excited to put their own unique spin on what’s sure to be a new favorite.
“It hasn’t been done very often, and that’s one of the reasons we wanted to do it,” Poole explains.
The clever tale follows the (true!) story of a group of women from Knapeley in the Yorkshire Dales who create a nude calendar to raise money for Leukemia research. When the news goes international, best friends Annie and Chris feel the pressures of fame impacting their once-solid friendship.
“It’s just a fun, really touching romp through the lives of these actual women,” says Poole. “It’s just a wonderful piece. I’ve grown to love the piece even more as we go along.”
The script is quite similar to the film, with just a couple of story lines omitted.
“It’s a little more sitcom-y, more tongue-in-cheek, but it’s basically the same as the film, same characters, etc.,” says Poole.
Poole decided to create a highly-stylized set that pays homage to Yorkshire’s beautiful hillsides while capturing the church hall where our heroines have their Women’s Institute meetings.
Calendar Girls features a diverse cast of familiar faces and newbies.
“It’s so hard to find shows that are really women-focused,” Poole observes. “Especially with a lot of women, and women in our age range.”
He reminds audiences that there is nudity in the show, calling it “very burlesque nudity.”
“Everything is covered by strategically-placed pastries and oranges and jam jars!” he hoots.
“My favorite line is when one woman is posing with pastries covering her breasts, and another woman says, ‘We need considerably bigger buns!’”
It’s just that kind of playfully irreverent, cheeky English humor that makes the performance such a delight, and a perfect outing for Mother’s Day weekend.
Poole points out that switching from brooding, dark Death of a Salesman-mode to Calendar Girls has been a total turn-around for the group, but that’s one of the most exciting elements of Collective Face: the troupe is capable of sharing all manner of stories with precision, grace, and extraordinary acting chops.
Bring mom to the opening night reception to nosh on some Joe’s Homemade, mingle with the cast and crew, and celebrate the end of a successful fourth season of great local theatre.
After Calendar Girls, the troupe will take a summer break, only to come back in September head-on with comedy The Savannah Sipping Society. After that, it’s George Bernard Shaw’s classic Pygmalion for the holidays, 9 to 5, The Musical for March, and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof to wrap up the fifth season.