IT IS a story which has inspired many with its heart-warming portrayal of a group of women who challenged convention to raise money for charity.
The scenario is one that these days has become a familiar one.
When a loved one dies, families often decided to honour their memory by raising funds in their name often for charities with a close personal connection.
When Annie’s husband, John died of cancer, that’s what her friends decided to do. Her best friend, Chris and others decided to try and raise enough to buy a new sofa for the waiting room at the local hospital.
They knew only too well what it was like to sit and wait for loved ones having treatment.
As members of the Women’s Institute, it was obvious where to turn to for others willing to help.
Who could have imagined that the idea they came up with would go global, that they would see their story on film, on stage and in newspaper headlines across the world.
But 13 years ago, the idea of 11 middle-aged women agreeing to pose naked for a calendar was not only different but incredibly brave.
Today, the real-life Calendar Girls continue to make headlines as their story is told and retold on stage and film.
For since the stage version of the Calendar Girls was released for production by amateur companies there has been a rush of societies wanting to get involved.
Keith Royston, who directs the Huddersfield Thespians’ production of Calendar Girls which opens at the Lawrence Batley Theatre next week isn’t a bit surprised.
“I saw the film as everybody else did and enjoyed it,” he said.
“When I was asked if I would direct it for the Thespians I said I would. I like it, it’s a good story.
“It’s the idea that these women went against convention and anybody who does that has my admiration particularly if they succeed.”
The play is written by Tim Firth and is based on the Miramax film written by Tim and Juliette Towhidi.
It tells of how a group of women from a Yorkshire Dales village agreed to pose nude for a calendar, raising money for Leukaemia Research. Their idea paid of handsomely with proceeds from the 2000 calendar used to fund lymphoma and leukaemia research in new laboratories at the University of Leeds. A plaque there is dedicated to John Baker, the man whose life inspired the Calendar Girls.
There’s no doubt of the interest in the story as tickets for next week’s show are selling fast.
It opens on Tuesday, January 29 and runs until Saturday with evening performances at 7.30pm. There is also a Saturday matinee at 2.15pm.
“I understand that tickets are really selling well which is great news,” said Keith.
“It is a show that has humour and a touch of pathos.
“The calendar was after all done to raise money for a noble cause after this lady’s husband’s death. The story revealed in the play says a lot about the friendship between these ladies and expresses that quite deeply.”
“The story is, as I think Hitchcock said, about life with the boring bits taken out.”
There is a suggestion that Beryl Bamforth, one of the real-life Calendar girls will be at next Saturday’s performance.
“I understand that they all take an interest in productions of the show and one of them attends them wherever they can,” said Keith.
“I saw a recent production of the show in Halifax and one of the ladies was at the performance.
“We understand Beryl will be in Huddersfield for the show and she has asked to meet the cast.”
Keith’s six leading ladies are all experienced actresses.
The cast features Rebecca Starrett, Miriam Marsden, Prue Griffiths, Lynne Whitaker, Melanie Duff and Julie Root as the Calendar Girls.
They are supported by more of the Thespians’ acting talent including Melanie Hudson, Christine Davies, Paula Scott, Dorothea Annison, Stuart Davison, Steve Marsden, Daren Wild and David Smith.
“This supporting cast has a lot of experience too and things are going well,” said Keith.
And if he says they are then believe him. Keith is a vastly experienced actor and director who has worked for many years not only with Huddersfield Thespians but with groups across the region.
This could prove one of the box office hits of the season. Tickets are on 01484 430528.