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Finding Truth and Beauty

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Like me, you may have already seen the lighthearted film Calendar Girls from a few years back.  But as with a good book versus its movie, the play is richer in theme and character development than in the film version.  According to Director Mary Finnerty, “the play is actually funnier than the film.  It is also more touching because the characters are more fully drawn in the play.  We get to know each woman better and see her fears and insecurities more.  I think the play is more spiritual and the male characters are stronger as well.  We see them more clearly.”

In fact, the play runs deeper than even its own title suggests. The term “calendar girls” brings up a pin-up image—an emphasis on the shiny surface; whereas, the play depicts a strong community of women who come to recognize that a life well-lived ultimately depends on developing an inner truth and beauty that is then reflected from inside out.

As the play progresses, the emphasis shifts from “girls” to “calendar” as one begins to recognize how the marking of time denotes some of the strong themes running throughout the play: coming of age, coming into self-acceptance, coming to terms with mortality, how love transcends death, and mindfully living in the present.  In a way, the play may be considered a study in the formation of girls into fully realized women through the course of time and life-changing experiences.

Park Square Theatre’s decision to produce the regional premiere of Calendar Girls, according to Finnerty, gave them “a way to feature some of the amazing female talent in the Twin Cities—especially women over 40.”  In Calendar Girls, as described by Finnerty, “a group of women decide to pose nude for a calendar to raise money for cancer research in memory of their friend Annie’s husband, John, who died from cancer at 52.  As the calendar rockets to success and the women are more famous than they imagined, tensions arise and friendships are strained and broken.  It is the reminder of John’s message (how he believes in her and life and love and beauty even as he faces his death) that brings the women home to each other and gives Annie the strength to ‘turn her face to the sun’ and carry on without her mate.”

It is rare to find a play featuring such a large cast of strong female and male characters that are allowed to be revealed in complex layers.  Do not miss this opportunity to see it!

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Calendar Girls is ideal for family viewing by teens and older.  It would be a terrific gift to mark a graduation or Father’s Day as well as simply a gift to the ones you love every day.

 

Ting Ting Cheng

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