The Big Reveal

I get excited when we do a promotion in the Peter Pond Mall.  It's been a long time.  I'll never forget when we did "Sing for the your tickets" to The Sound of Music.  Groups of all sizes from schools across the community joined us for a fun afternoon contest singing or performing their favourite songs from the famous Rodgers and Hammerstein musical.  The stage and the talent were the focal points that day, with spectators clamoring for a spot to see.

Keyano Theatre Company returns to centre court at the Peter Pond Mall on Sunday afternoon at 3 pm for the big reveal of two things.  First, the brave and the beautiful ladies who bare it all for a good cause will make a grand entrance, giving the public its first opportunity to see who will be featured when Calendar Girls by Tim Firth opens at Keyano Theatre.  Second, the brave and the beautiful will be featured in the buff in the Calendar Girls fundraising calendar, which will be unveiled and available for purchase at the event with net proceeds to the Canadian Cancer Society.

Tastefully photographed by Keyano College photographer Sean McLennan - specific body parts strategically covered by the careful positioning of the subject - the calendar models include cast members from the show and a couple of other surprises.  Sean says that "it's some of my best work since coming to Fort McMurray." Considering his body of work over the past five years, that's a telling statement.  Based on the draft copy I saw about a month ago - they are keeping the finished calendar under lock and key; I haven't seen it yet - he's absolutely right.  It's beautiful.

There is a very personal dimension to this calendar and production.  This is about the devastation caused when you lose someone to cancer - overwhelming helplessness, uncontrollable sorrow and simmering anger.  This is also about those who have been through the fight and survived - your neighbor, your friend, my father.

I wonder if I would have the courage to do what these incredible ladies have done, and will do? If some bloke came out with Calendar Guys - similar story, same great cause - could I do it?

In 1998, the director of The Grapes of Wrath made a shocking announcement while we were rehearsing the water scene. A faux river had been built into the apron above the orchestra pit, covered for much of the play, but revealed when it came time for several of us strip down to our undies to go for a dip.

"I've made a decision," she said.  "I'm going to have you do the river scene in the nude.  It will be more authentic."

My heart stopped.  I must have looked absolutely conflicted, my face squinched up, my pulse racing.

"But, but..." I stuttered.  "I'm a public figure (I was a radio personality and President of interPLAY at the time).  I can't perform in the nude."

At that point, Maralyn Ryan and those who were in on it started laughing.  The joke (and the shock) was on me.  Bazinga!

For the ladies of Calendar Girls - all of them, at one level or another - coming to terms with body image issues became essential in taking it all off for this calendar and this show.  The result is something extra special, a calendar and a performance that will be life affirming, inspirational and profoundly breathtaking.

So what are you doing Sunday afternoon at 3 pm?  Why not come to the mall, do some early Christmas shopping, then raise your hands and your voice in celebration and appreciation for the ladies baring their souls (and a few other things) in Calendar Girls and in the fundraising calendar.  Bring a few crisp $20 bills along to buy some copies for your friends and family. Be sure to get them autographed by the stars.

Calendar Girls previews November 22nd, opens the 23rd and runs November 24, 28, 29, 30 and December 1. For obvious reasons, this is going to be the hottest ticket in town, so get yours early.


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