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Grassington Players to stage Calendar Girls premiere
3:39pm Thursday 16th August 2012 in Arts & Ents News
Grassington Players will bring alive the story of the Calendar Girls this month.
The group will become the first in the country to stage an amateur performance of the smash-hit play by Tim Firth.
It is appropriate the amateur premiere should be held in Grassington, as the play focuses on the members of nearby Rylstone WI who made international news when they launched a nude calendar in 1999.
The original Miss January, Beryl Bamforth, 78, has been a stalwart actress and director of Grassington Players since 1970 and John Baker, whose battle with leukaemia inspired his wife Angela and her friends to produce the calendar, was house manager and treasurer of the group for many years. Angela has also performed with the company along with fellow Calendar Girl Lynda Logan.
The production opens in Grassington on Friday, August 31 – a day before any other amateur group in the country is granted licence to perform the play.
Mark Bamforth, son of Beryl, plays John Clarke, while his partner, Jane Ellison-Bates plays the courageous Annie Clarke.
Paula Vickers, who has performed in the professional theatre in Cardiff, takes on the lead role of Chris Harper, whose enthusiasm drives the girls through their bittersweet adventure.
Playing her husband, Rod, is Les Kerkham. He has played more than 60 roles for Grassington Players in the 40 years he has been a member.
Zarina Belk, who stripped on stage in ’Allo, ’Allo, sheds her clothes again in the role of the reluctant Ruth.
Jennifer Scott – awarded a National Operatic and Dramatic Association nomination for best actress in a supporting role as Letitia Peabody Primrose in Colne Operatic Society’s In the 20th Century – portrays cynical matriarchal school ma’am Jessie, while local girl Samantha Harrison, who went to the Arts Educational School of Performing Arts, plays glamorous golfer Celia.
Andrea Clay plays vicar’s daughter and single mum Cora, while staying sensibly clothed Sue Wainwright and Sue Clement join the cast as Lady Cravenshire and the misunderstood Marie, leader of Knapeley WI.
Accomplished youngster Lizzie Merrifield plays a beauty therapist and the Players’ oldest member, Joan Whitaker, takes on the cameo role of Brenda Hulse, a visiting speaker extolling the virtues of broccoli.
Two new faces join the company from Skipton , as David Nicholson and David Newall take on the roles of photographer and film director.
Director Ed Williams said: “The play strikes a real chord with all the cast and it is our aim to make our production a real tribute and celebration of the magnificent work that our friends, the real Calendar Girls, have done in raising over £3 million to help Leukaemia Research find a way to beat, in Tim Firth’s words, the ‘cheating, sly, conniving, silent disease that cancer is’.”
The production will be staged at Grassington Town Hall on August 31 and September 1, 6, 7 and 8. Tickets are available from Grassington Hub on (01756) 752222.