Calendar Girls – Tacoma Little Theater Play Review – The Suburban Times

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Banned in Boston, canceled in Atlanta and flourishing in Tacoma, Calendar Girls is a hit. A group of middle-aged British women go from heart-touching Tai Chi. We saw very few empty seats on Sunday morning. Judging by the face of General Artistic Director Chris Serface, the previous two performances and the ticket sales that followed must be rewarding.

Banned in Boston, canceled in Atlanta and flourishing in Tacoma, Calendar Girls is a hit. A group of middle-aged British women range from heart-touching tai chi. Left to Right – Ruth (Dawn Brazel), Annie (Dayna Childs), Jessie (Sharry O’Hare), Chris (Shannon Mahan), Cora (Karen Christensen) & Celia (Carrie Sleeper-Bowers)

In the early days of vaudeville and Broadway shows, “Forbidden in Boston” was almost a foolproof title for a successful show. The airing of this tasteful, cute little play was canceled in Atlanta as inappropriate. Go figure it out.

Mike Brandstetter for Lakewood City Council


When Annie’s husband John dies of leukemia, she and her best friend Chris decide to raise money for a bench on her sunflower hill. From left to right – Annie (Dayna Childs), Chris (Shannon Mahan), Ruth (Dawn Brazel), John (W. Scott Pinkston), Jessie (Sharry O’Hare), Celia (Carrie Sleeper-Bowers) & Cora (Karen Christensen))

Here’s the basic plot: When Annie’s husband John dies of leukemia, she and her best friend Chris decide to raise money for a new bench on her sunflower hill. They manage to persuade four other members of the Women’s Institute (WI) to pose nude with them for an “alternative” fundraising schedule, with the help of hospital porter and amateur photographer Lawrence. Word of the women’s charity venture spreads like wildfire, and news hordes soon descended on the small village of Knapeley in the Yorkshire Dales. The schedule is a success, but Chris and Annie’s friendship is put to the test under the pressure of their newfound fame.

Ruth (Dawn Brazel) was hilarious as she tried to follow the precise and slow movements of Tai Chi led by Chris (Shannon Mahan). Left to Right – Ruth (Dawn Brazel), Annie (Dayna Childs), Jessie (Sharry O’Hare), Chris (Shannon Mahan)
DuPont Museum

The English accents, while giving a glimpse of reality, actually make a production difficult for many to hear and understand, especially older audiences. The directing seemed to be one line at a time and was uncomfortable. Even though there are only two people on stage, standing more than six feet apart seemed a bit awkward. The cloudy lighting may have been done to hide any possibility of actually seeing nudity. With most of the action taking place deep within the scene, this is only a distant problem.

The public enjoyed the badminton battle with the shuttlecock as a weapon. Left to Right – Ruth (Dawn Brazel) and Marie (Jen Aylsworth)

Ruth (Dawn Brazel) was hilarious as she tried to follow the precise, slow-motion movements of Tai Chi led by Chris (Shannon Mahan). Well done and run. Dawn has been a college music teacher, rock and roll singer, and cruise ship host. She has appeared in productions at the Village Theater, Arts West, Renton Civic and Theater Schmeater. Peg and I love Seattle’s quirky Schmeater Theater. Shannon performed on Vashon Island (a great place to be entertained) and appeared as Becky in Becky’s New Car, which we saw on Act and loved.

Jason Whalen for Lakewood City Council

The audience enjoyed the badminton battle between Ruth and Marie (Jen Aylsworth) with the shuttlecock as their weapon. We really liked Jen in The Foreigner last season, but we missed her in A Little Night Music in 1997. Too bad we would have loved her.

Left to Right – Jessie (Sharry O’Hare), Cora (Karen Christensen), Celia (Carrie Sleeper-Bowers), Marie (Jen Aylsworth) & Annie (Dayna Childs)

My favorite moments were singing. I would have loved to hear a full version of Cora (Karen Christensen) singing “Stormy Weather”. Karen is the office manager of TLT and the director of Murder Mysteries.

The cast seemed to be having a ball. From the comments I heard during the intermission, I know the audience really enjoyed the production. Calendar Girls will run until Sunday, September 29, 2019. Screenings on Fridays and Saturdays will take place at 7:30 p.m. and Sundays at 2:00 p.m. Calendar Girls is recommended for ages 12 and up. For tickets call the box office at 253-272-2281 or visit the website for more information – tacomalittletheater.com

Edward Jones - Bart Dalton



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