Presented by the Red Deer Players, the highly-anticipated production of Calendar Girls opens March 3rd at the Scott Block Theatre, with additional shows running through to March 18h.
Curtain is at 7:30 p.m. There is also a matinee performance on March 12th at 2 p.m. as well.
On opening night (March 3rd) there is also a special gala fundraiser to benefit the Carole Forhan Theatre Arts Scholarship Fund and the Cancer Society. For ticket information, check out www.reddeerplayers.com.
Set in Yorkshire, England, Calendar Girls is the true story of a group of Women’s Institute ladies who made a tremendous difference. According to the synopsis, when one of their fellow members loses her husband to leukemia, they set about raise money to replace the sofa in the hospital waiting room.
Their campaign gained world-wide recognition and resulted in millions being raised for the fight against cancer. This funny, inspiring production is being dedicated with love to the late Forhan – a great local lady who inspired so many.
Director Lori Lane was also at the helm of last season’s powerhouse Mass Appeal and the equally mesmerizing Twelve Angry Men the year prior to that. Last winter, as Mass Appeal was closing, local theatre supporters were asking Lane what she may have coming up next.
“I said what do you think about Calendar Girls?” The enthusiastic response was immediate, including that from Forhan, a much-loved Red Deer actor, director and all-around theatre enthusiast. “Carole was just 100 per cent enthusiastic about it,” recalls Lane. She also wanted a part in the show which features a cast of 14.
“Six of those are the ‘calendar girls’ and they are onstage the whole time,” she added. Ultimately, it’s a rather intricate story to pull off with multiple scene changes, costume changes and the utilization of props. “All of that we had to think through, and the staging of it.” Finally in late July the green light was given to dive into pre-production formally – and the team was off to the races.
Except that in early August, Forhan, who was such a huge supporter of bringing the play to local audiences, was diagnosed with cancer. Eventually, it was discovered that she was terminally ill.
As fall came around, the idea of forming a scholarship in Forhan’s name was sparked.
She passed away in October. “So many of the ladies who were interested in doing the show – their interest was because of Carole.”
In the following weeks, Lane selected her cast from some 30 hopefuls.
Once the show was cast, table reads began. “To me it’s one of the most important parts, because that’s where we unearth who the characters are,” she said. “We figure what’s really happening in a given scene. We also talk a lot about what’s happening in a scene – in each scene, every single character had an objective. Sometimes they achieve it, sometimes they don’t.
“So there’s often a conflict that has to be resolved – whether it’s something internal in the character or a conflict between two people.
“There are also scenes where a character might have a change of heart, or they cross a milestone. So we spend a lot of time digging into that so the actors really understand what’s going on with their character within that scene.
“I also think the chemistry (between characters) is sort of a natural by-product of working on something like this as a team. And you work towards an environment where that kind of chemistry can happen because there has to be so much trust,” she explained. “I also think it’s about discovering the characters. If you can lead people on that path of discovering who they are as their characters, that’s where the magic happens.
“I really hope that people feel empowered to say, ‘I’m a beautiful person and there should be nothing to stop me from taking a leap and doing something because I believe it’s the right thing to do,” she said. “That’s the message.”
Meanwhile, as mentioned, to help raise funds for the scholarship, opening night is a gala evening – tickets are $60 instead of the usual $25.
“Twenty-five dollars of that ticket goes into the Carole Forhan Theatrical Arts Scholarship, so they will get a tax receipt for that amount,” said Lane. The gala evening will also feature special music, a silent auction and food as well.
“There will also be a bit of an extended intermission where there will be desserts and that kind of thing. So it’s opening night with a whole bunch of extras added on.”
Again, for more information or for tickets, check out www.reddeerplayers.com.