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Calendar Girls on stage at Metro Theatre

Reinventing the calendar, from housewives to activists, a tale of enduring friendship

Alison Schamberger, president of the Metro Theatre, looks back at some of her past performances. Photo by Lisa Tanh
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Reported by Lisa Tanh

Celebrating female empowerment can take many forms – including a play about middle-aged women who pose nude for a calendar.

From Oct. 28 to Nov. 25, the Metro Theatre will produce Calendar Girls, a true story about eleven, middle-aged women, who are long-time friends and part of the Women’s Institute (WI), a women’s voluntary organization.

A tale of enduring friendship in a time of desperation

When one women loses her husband to leukemia, they decide to raise funds for the hospital that treated him by posing nude for a calendar doing traditional WI activities such as baking and knitting.

To date, the women have raised millions of dollars for Bloodwise, a charity dedicated to funding blood cancer research, through selling more calendars, greeting cards, jam and chocolates.

While the story turned film and play took place in a small, Yorkshire town in Northern England, it continues to have an impact all over the world. Alison Schamberger, the theatre’s president and director of the play, said it’s a “wonderful, feel-good story” that delivers an important message.

“The women in this play are housewives and not able to do very much. This is a breaking out for them into a new venue and it shows a tremendous amount of courage,” Schamberger said. “That’s an important message to be putting out that women can take charge of their lives.”

Theatre reflects reality

Peg Keenleyside who plays Annie Baker, one of the real-life calendar girls who lost her husband to leukemia, said theatre, film and television are always reflecting the stage of the world.

“I think that in recent years, we’ve seen a lot of movement in writing where women are empowering themselves to make the changes they want to see in the world,” Keenleyside said.

Keenleyside said she hopes attendees will come for a great night of theatre and leave with a feeling that they can make a difference too.

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