Snowmass Chapel bares it all for good cause
The Aspen Times
IF you go ...
March 13-14, 19-21 and 26-28
All performances at 7 p.m. at Snowmass Chapel
$20 suggested donation
No advance ticket sales
Thespians are literally baring it all for a good cause in Snowmass Chapel’s production of “Calendar Girls.”
The play is based on the movie of the same name, which in turn was based on a true story of a group of women from Yorkshire who posed nude for a calendar in order to raise money for a new couch — or “settee,” as they called it — for the waiting room in a hospital after one of their husbands underwent treatment there.
Audience members “won’t see anything they’re not supposed to,” said director Paul Dankers, also the chapel’s music and IT director. But the actresses, who hail from all over the upper valley, will be getting into full character, which is an integral part of the comedy of the show, says Aspen resident Wendy Perkins.
Perkins plays a lead role and has taken over some production aspects of the play, including organizing a photo shoot of the cast for a calendar of their own — equally tasteful and provocative, just like the original.
“We had a ball,” Perkins said. “It was just a blast.”
Perkins found sponsors such as Calaway Young Cancer Center in Glenwood Springs to cover the cost of making the calendar so that all sales proceeds will go to Pathfinders, a valley nonprofit that provides emotional support for cancer patients and their families. To bring the message home, each cast member provided a personal story of an experience with cancer to be printed with their photo.
Written by one of the co-writers of the 2003 film starring Helen Mirren, “Calendar Girls” is only available for U.S. theater companies to produce for a short period of time, Dankers said. Knowing this was his one chance to bring the play to Snowmass, he also started encountering cancer among people he knew and felt compelled to do the show — and to make it a benefit for cancer patients in some way.
Perkins, herself a survivor of breast cancer, suggested Pathfinders as the beneficiary when Dankers asked her what would be a good nonprofit for the play to support. After getting her involved, “it just snowballed,” Dankers said.
“As time went on, I was seeing more and more enthusiasm,” he said. “Exactly the right people came out (for auditions).”
“Calendar Girls” centers around the friendship of two women, Chris and Annie, played by Perkins and Aspen resident Shelly Marolt. Their real-life equivalents got so much media attention for their endeavor that they raised more than half a million dollars, enough to build a whole new cancer wing for their local hospital. Over the years, they’ve made additional calendars and other merchandise, all to benefit leukemia and lymphoma research.
“I’m not a fan of shows that are just one thing,” Dankers said. “This show is my favorite kind of show because it really has it all. … It contrasts from sad to hilarious, from fearful to angry.”
Because of the content and some language in the show, Dankers isn’t recommending it for young children. The chapel is not selling tickets in advance, so he advises audience members to get there early to get their seat of choice.
Tickets are for sale by donation. Dankers is asking that patrons give $20 if they can. Any proceeds above the cost of producing the play will be donated to Pathfinders.
“Everyone has a connection (to cancer),” Dankers said. “I don’t see how anyone could come to this show and not be touched.”
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