Calendar Girls returns to its Yorkshire roots in latest ZCC production
Thursday 16 May 2013
© Copyright Zurich Comedy Club
Three years ago, ZIWA commemorated the death from a brain tumour of popular On Stage group member Rachael d’Antonio with a lively and professional stage show entitled ZIWA’s Calendar Girls. Twelve solo acts and duets representing the months of the year were staged at Zürich’s Karl der Grosse Centre, under the direction of newly arrived ZIWA member Julie-anne Smith, and a hundred audience members joined in the singing and the final applause.
Now a wider audience can enjoy the play of the film ‘Calendar Girls’ currently being performed by the Zürich Comedy Club (ZCC) at Theater im Seefeld, Zürich. And again comedy rubs shoulders with poignant moments in another outstanding production.
This time the play by English dramatist Tim Firth, which was based on the famous 2003 movie of the same name starring Helen Mirren and Julie Walters, has been brought to life by Yorkshirewoman Julie-anne Smith, who hails from Scarborough. So the northern accents of the strong cast were perfectly tuned. As was the comic timing – and there were many laugh-out-loud moments in last night’s performance.
But the sadness was never far away either, as portrayed by two friends, Annie and Chris, who resolve to raise money for a cancer charity after Annie’s husband John is diagnosed with and dies of leukaemia. His deterioration and stoicism was wonderfully realised by Marc Kempe in a role as ‘a human sunflower, who, even in the face of death, chooses always to see what is beautiful in life’.
To bare or not to bare?
The question on everyone’s lips during a delay to the start due to a technical hitch (a problem with the new lighting board), was, ‘Will there really be nudity involved?’ Yes, it was discreet, but cleverly incorporated into the photo sessions for the Women’s Institute calendar which the two friends persuade their WI colleagues to pose for. Once word gets about (in the days before social networking took off) that the calendar was a winner, the ladies were invited to promote their fundraising idea throughout the country and even as far afield as the USA. It was testament to the scriptwriter’s and director’s skills that this action was beautifully realised on the small stage, thanks also to some creative sound, lighting and props handling.
Then and now
Julie-anne’s directorial debut for ZCC was last year’s Oscar Wilde period comedy, An Ideal Husband. But ZIWA’s own Calendar Girls are remembered just as fondly by those lucky enough to have been in the audience and cast in October 2010.
Another ZIWA member, Anne Jiricny, was the presenter and narrator then, and memorably appeared as a scantily dressed Miss August; last night she played an altogether more sedate role as Lady Cravenshire in the ZCC production.
As Christine Federspiel, chairlady of ZIWA's On Stage group, commented, ' It was a great show and Anne Jiricny was incredible. As Julie-anne said, she had a small but very important part in the play!'
Tickets for the play Calendar Girls are still available at this link: www.zcc.ch. It runs from 15-18, 21 – 25 May 2013 at Theater im Seefeld. A donation will be made from the proceeds to the Cancer League Zürich at www.krebsliga-zh.ch.
Julia Newton, 18 May 2013
P.S. Before heading to the Swiss Première of ‘Calendar Girls’, the On Stage group met at the Belvoir Park in celebration of the honorary member Marie-Louise's Big Birthday and in memoriam Rachael. [Photos by Eugen Schwyn]
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