Past Reviews

Regional Reviews: Connecticut and the Berkshires

Regional Reviews by Zander Opper

Calendar Girls
Ivoryton Playhouse

Katrina Ferguson, Maria Silverman, Jacqueline Hubbard, Erik Bloomquist, Beverly J. Taylor, Lily Dorment, and Maggie McGlone Jennings
Tim Firth's Calendar Girls, based on the 2003 film and currently making its U.S. debut at Ivoryton Playhouse, is a delightful, frequently hilarious lark of a play that is a real treat to watch. The plot concerns a group of middle-aged British women who decide to raise money by appearing in a highly risqué calendar, which leads to all sorts of unexpected results. Calendar Girls has been exceedingly well cast, with each of the six leading ladies getting a chance to shine. There is also an undercurrent of sorrow beneath the laughs that adds an extra dimension and gives the show real heart.

That element of sadness concerns one of the women's husbands (nicely played by R. Bruce Connelly) developing cancer. Indeed, this proves to be the catalyst for this group of ladies deciding to pose for the calendar to raise money. I am loath to reveal any more of the plot other than to say that it takes off in all sorts of humorous directions.

One of the real joys of Calendar Girls is watching the marvelous performances of the six actresses at the center of the show. As Annie, the wife of the character who develops cancer, Jacqueline Hubbard gives a multi-shaded portrayal, mixing melancholy with bursts of joy. It should be mentioned that Jacqueline Hubbard is not only the Artistic Director of Ivoryton Playhouse, but also the director of Calendar Girls. She acquits herself quite well both as an actress and as the director of this production.

As the spiciest character in the play, Celia, Katrina Ferguson is a real live wire and generates some of the biggest laughs. I saw Katrina Ferguson play the buttoned up Lady Bracknell in a recent production of The Importance of Being Earnest and it is a delicious pleasure to watch her in such a sassy, sexy role. Also shining brightly are Beverley J. Taylor as the fun-loving Chris, who comes up with the idea of doing the calendar, and Lily Dorment, who displays terrific range as Ruth, a woman who goes from inhibited to adventurous.

Rounding out the group of women, Maria Silverman is a great deal of fun as Cora, who wins laughs with an unexpected tattoo. As the oldest character in the show, Jessie, the terrific Maggie McGlone Jennings is a real scream, displaying deadpan looks that threaten to stop (and steal) the show. The other performers do equally fine work (notably Victoria Bundonis as Marie and David Edwards as one of the husbands) but, ultimately, this play really belongs to the six leading ladies.

Calendar Girls is an often deliriously funny show. This is a play that truly gets funnier as it goes along. Still, even amongst all the laughter, one really comes to care for these six women, and it is their camaraderie as a group, as well as their noble effort to raise money for a good cause, that illuminates the play. Calendar Girls at Ivoryton Playhouse proves to be an extremely enjoyable show and, as such, is most highly recommended—but don't be surprised if you find yourself wiping away a tear even as you laugh.

Calendar Girls continues performances at Ivoryton Playhouse in Ivoryton, CT through June 21, 2015. For tickets, please visit or call the box office at (860) 767-7318.

Photo: Anne Hudson

- Zander Opper