Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Baring All Continues beyond the Drama; Girls Release Their Own Calendar to Go on Sale after the Stage Show

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Baring All Continues beyond the Drama; Girls Release Their Own Calendar to Go on Sale after the Stage Show

Article excerpt

Byline: David Whetstone Arts & Entertainment Editor ? 0191 201 6366 ?

TASTEFUL nudity is all the rage as amateur actresses across Britain strip off for Calendar Girls - but a North East am dram society is going one better.

As well as staging the show, Newcastle-based West End Operatic Society is producing its own calendar - just like the Yorkshire Women's Institute members who began it all in 1999.

It means the women playing Cora, Celia, Jessie, Annie, Chris and Ruth will not just strip off for next month's four performances at the PAC Theatre at Newcastle Royal Grammar School, but will have a further year's worth of exposure on kitchen walls across the region - and maybe beyond.

The show Calendar Girls premiered in 2008, based on the 2003 film inspired by the six women who unwittingly became a worldwide sensation.

Many professional actresses have since stripped for the show but when the amateur performance rights were released this year, non-professionals were not shy about coming forward.

Dorothy Coleman, operatic society publicity manager, said there had been no shortage of volunteers to play the WI half-dozen, posing artfully starkers for a photographer on stage.

"They're excited and they're looking at it as a challenge because they're all involved in operatic societies," she said. "Because this is a play it's something totally different for them. But with them being singers, Jerusalem is sung beautifully." The ladies with the fantastic lungs are still rehearsing with director Kate Lawrie, who lives in Lanchester, County Durham.

But on a recent Sunday they took time out for a photo shoot in Rowlands Gill at the home of assistant director Ruth Barber. There they posed for South Shields photographer Adrian Jackson - himself an amateur trouper who last year appeared in The Fully Monty for the operatic society - behind strategically positioned teapots, pot plants and iced buns.

"I've heard reports that it was an absolutely fun day," said Dorothy.

As in that original 1999 calendar, produced in aid of leukaemia research, the remaining months of next year will feature group shots of the women.

The calendar will be on sale after the performances from October 17-20. For more details call the box office on 0191 262 2342.

The daring West End Operatic Society calendar girls come from various walks of life. They are...

? MISS JANUARY (Jessie): Joan Elton, from Rowlands Gill, who spent "40 very happy years in education as teacher, headteacher, university lecturer and school inspector". She says her husband, George, died of cancer two years ago and was cared for by St Oswald's Hospice in Gosforth. St Oswald's is the charity chosen to benefit from the operatic society production. …

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