(Photo submitted by Mike Foster)

‘Calendar Girls’ cast strips for cause

By ADAM SCHRADER
Published in the Dallas Morning News and the Denton Record-Chronicle on Dec. 5, 2014

The Greater Lewisville Community Theater will host the region premiere of the comedy Calendar Girls by Tim Firth. Landing the licensing rights to produce the play has become a big deal for southern Denton County’s arts community.

The play is based on a group of women in Yorkshire, England. In 1998, when one of their husbands died from non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, the group decided to raise money to purchase a hospital waiting-room sofa. Despite their advanced ages, the women decided to pose naked for photos and then sell the resulting pinup calendar.

Their fundraiser went better than expected and they soon had donated hundreds of thousands of pounds for leukemia research. Because of its success, the women decided to make followup calendars each year. Now, they have raised millions of pounds for leukemia and lymphoma research.

Touchstone Pictures released an award-winning film starring Helen Mirren in 2003. Tim Firth released his stage adaptation in 2008. The play was a huge success in the United Kingdom. Every theater that performed the play would make a pinup calendar to further the women’s cause.

Theaters in the United States recently acquired the rights to perform the play, and the Lewisville theater company has one of six production licenses in the country. It will be the second U.S. theater to stage the play.

Nancy Thorne, a theater board member, said she is happy to have a small role in Calendar Girls.

“We’re just a small community theater,” she said. “So we’re really excited about being able to produce it.”

Delynda Moravec is one of the six principal actors in Calendar Girls. She was particularly attracted to this project because her husband, Kip, is a 40-year survivor of Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

“The thought of him dealing with cancer as a teenager is heartbreaking to me,” she said. “I want to be able to help raise awareness and support research for these diseases, and this story is a poignant reminder of what we can accomplish when we come together for a cause.”

In keeping with tradition, the women of the GLCT cast and crew have produced a 2015 pinup calendar. It will be on sale for $15 each during the run of the show. Net proceeds will benefit the North Texas Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.

“It just seemed natural to do exactly what these ladies did and give to the cause they donated to,” Thorne said.

Mike Foster, a Highland Village photographer, has shot GLCT’s production photos for many years. He said he was caught off guard when he was asked to take pictures for the calendar.

“I was excited, thrilled and terrified at the thought. Before the shoot, nerves were relaxed at Tierney’s Cafe and we were ready to go,” he said. “I knew the ladies were going to be nervous, as was I, but once the shoot started, we all had a blast.”

Thorne said the group joked a lot before the photo shoot to calm their nerves.

“Mike was so professional and an easy guy to work with,” she said.

Calendar Girls runs through Dec. 21, with performances at 8 p.m on Fridays and Saturdays, and 3 p.m. on Sundays. Tickets cost $17 for adults and $15 for 65 and older or 18 and younger. It is rated PG-13 for adult content.

Crumpet comes to town

The Greater Lewisville Community Theater will perform the Joe Mantello adaptation of David Sedaris’ The Santaland Diaries simultaneously.

The play is based on Sedaris’ personal essay about his time as an elf in Macy’s.

Chris Robinson plays Crumpet in this one-man, one-act play. Out of work and desperate, this irreverent little man takes a job at Macy’s ushering children and their parents through the Santaland maze to meet an everchanging array of Santas.

Robinson has directed numerous productions in area theaters, including the last two musicals for GLCT. He said he first became aware of The Santaland Diaries during a road trip to Houston, when he heard Sedaris read the essay on NPR.

“My travel companion and I laughed for days over the antics of Crumpet the Elf,” he said. “I thought at the time I could portray him brilliantly if I ever had the chance.”

This is Robinson’s first solo performance.

“I have performed in many productions of the two-actor Tuna plays with my good friend, the late Ryan Roach, and it was always comforting to be able to rely on his support as a fellow actor,” he said. “It’s a bit scary now to have only myself to rely on onstage.”

The Santaland Diaries will run at 11 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays through Dec. 20. Tickets cost $12. It is rated R for adult content and language.

GLCT is at 160 W. Main St. in Old Town Lewisville. Call 972-221-7469 to make reservations. More information is available at glct.org.

Lewisville/Flower Mound editor Adam Schrader can be reached at 214-773-8188 and on Twitter at @schrader_adam.

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