What: Open auditions for Calendar Girls, by Tim Firth.

When: 1 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 9.

Where: Pentacle Theatre, 324 52nd Ave. NW, off Highway 22 about 6 miles west of downtown Salem.

Casting: Nine women and four men able to play ages 20s-60s.

Auditions: Actors will read from the script, copies of which are available on loan at the Pentacle Theatre Business Office, 145 Liberty St. NE in downtown Salem for a $10 refundable deposit. Call 503-485-4300 to arrange for pickup.

Those auditioning should bring a list of calendar conflicts through March 24. If you have a conflict on the audition date, please contact the director, below, to arrange an alternate date.

Callbacks (if needed): To be announced.

Rehearsals:  6:30 to 9:30 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays at Pentacle Theatre’s rehearsal studio in downtown Salem. The director will set weekend rehearsals and work sessions as needed.

Show dates: Friday, March 2, through Saturday, March 24, 2018.

About the show: When Annie’s husband, John, dies of leukemia, she and her best friend, Chris, resolve to raise money for a new settee in the local hospital waiting room. They persuade four fellow Women’s Institute members to join them in posing nude for an “alternative” calendar, with a little help from Lawrence, a hospital porter and amateur photographer. The news of the women’s charitable venture spreads like wildfire, and hordes of press soon descend on the small village of Knapeley in the Yorkshire Dales of England. The calendar is a success, but Chris and Annie’s friendship is put to the test under the strain of their newfound fame. Based on the true story of 11 Women’s Institute members who posed nude for a calendar to raise money for the Leukemia Research Fund.

Calendar Girls is generously sponsored by Jim and Joan Witt, State Farm Insurance.

Cast of Characters: The director will cast nine women and four men able to play able to play the following roles (ages indicated next to character name):

Chris: 50s. You want Chris at your party. She talks to people she doesn’t know, fills awkward silences and generates laughter. Chris is at home in crowds, holding court and being the center of attention. Without Chris in her life, Annie would be better behaved, but her life less fun. The two of them together are like a pair of naughty schoolgirls.

Must be comfortable with suggested nudity while wearing strategically placed costume elements.

Annie: 50s. Annie will join in mischief but is at heart more conformist and less confrontational than Chris. When Chris oversteps, Annie brings the calm. The mischievous Chris saves Annie from being a saint. Annie has enough edge to be interesting, and enough salt not to be too sweet.

Must be comfortable with suggested nudity while wearing strategically placed costume elements.

Cora: Around 40. Cora’s past is eclectic, and her horizon broader by having gone to college. This caused a tectonic shift with her more parochial parents. She came back to them pregnant and tail-between-legs, but Cora has too much native resilience to be downtrodden. She is the joker in the pack, but never plays the fool. Her deadpan wit raises laughter in others, but rarely in herself. Her relationship with her daughter is more like that between Chris and Annie. The actor playing Cora doesn’t need to sing like a diva but must be able to sing well enough to start the show with Jerusalem and sing snatches of other songs in the script. The piano keyboard can be marked up to enable her to play basic chords should she not be a player.

Must be comfortable with suggested nudity while wearing strategically placed costume elements.

Jessie: Late 60s-70s. Get on the right side of Jessie as a teacher and she’ll be the one you remember for life. Get on the wrong side and you will regret every waking hour in school. A lover of life, Jessie doesn’t bother with cosmetics: Bravery is her life’s elixir. Jessie goes on rollercoasters. Jessie is a stickler for grammar and will correct others who abuse the apostrophe-S.

Must be comfortable with suggested nudity while wearing strategically placed costume elements.

Celia: 35-50. That Celia is in the Women’s Institute is the greatest justification of its existence. She’s more at home in a department store than a church hall. While she may be slightly younger than Chris, or around the same age, she always feels like she’s drifted in from another world — which she has. She is particularly enamored of Jessie, who has little time for most Celias of this world. But there is a rebelliousness in Celia to which Jessie responds. It’s what sets Celia apart from the vapid materialism of her peer group and made her defect.

Must be comfortable with suggested nudity while wearing strategically placed costume elements.

Ruth: Ruth’s journey is from the false self-confidence of the emotionally abused to the genuine self-confidence of a woman happy in her own skin. Ruth is eager to please but not a rag doll, and despite being Marie’s right-hand woman, Ruth is desperate to be the cartilage in the spine of the Women’s Institute and keep everyone happy. She has spine herself. Her friends feel protective of her, sensing there is something better in Ruth than her life lets out — and they are proved right.

Must be comfortable with suggested nudity while wearing strategically placed costume elements.

Marie: 50s. Marie has gradually built her current self as a defense mechanism. She went to her Oz, Cheshire, and found Oz didn’t want her. She came back scorched. The Women’s Institute is a trophy to her, which justifies her entire existence. There is a lingering part of Marie that would love to be on that calendar.

John: 50s. John is a human sunflower. Not a saint. Not a hero. He’s the kind of man you’d want in your car when crossing America. When he dies, it feels like someone, somewhere, turned off a light.

Rod: Chris’s husband, 50s. You have to be a certain kind of guy to stick with Chris, and Rod loves it. He can give back what he gets, and has a deadpan humor that makes Chris laugh. He drinks a lot, but never so much as to have a problem. He would work every hour to make his shop a success. And John was his mate, even though their relationship was originally channeled through their wives.

Lawrence: Late 20s. Hesitant without being nerdy, Lawrence is a shy young photographer with enough wit to make a joke and enough spirit to turn up at the Women’s Institute hall in the first place. When he arranges the calendar shots, he is close to female nudity but sees only the photo.

Lady Cravenshire: 60s. Lady Cravenshire really doesn’t mean to be so patronizing, but the WI girls seem from another world. The world of her estate workers. She dresses to impress, and when she makes an entrance, she glides in like a galleon. She is not a tweed-wearer.

Elaine: 20s. Elaine also doesn’t mean to be so patronizing, but Jessie seems from another world: The world of her gran. The clinical whites Elaine wears slice through like a knife. You feel you could cut yourself on that dress.

Liam: Late 20s. Liam would like to be directing other things than photoshoots for washing powders. He’s not so unprofessional as to let it show, but we can sense a slight weariness at having to deal with these women. There’s a resigned patience to his actions and each smile he makes we feel is professional. For Liam, this photoshoot is a job. And not the job he wanted.

For more information:   If you have questions or have a conflict on the audition date, please contact director Jill Sorensen or call 503-983-0429.


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