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Naked ladies are naughty but so nice

Chris (Naon? Carrel), and Annie (Elaine Noon) perform a scene from the Canberra Repertory's performance of Calendar Girls.

Chris (Naon? Carrel), and Annie (Elaine Noon) perform a scene from the Canberra Repertory's performance of Calendar Girls. Photo: Rohan Thompson

These ladies are fully clothed. If you want to see them bare (almost) all, you will have to buy a ticket to Calendar Girls, Canberra Repertory Society’s first production for 2013, which opens at Theatre 3 tomorrow.

Tim Firth’s play is based on the film of the same name he co-wrote with Juliette Towhidi. It was inspired by the true story of how two women in  the Women’s Institute in Yorkshire persuaded their friends to take part in a fund-raising calendar in which they would be nude, with the help of strategically placed props to keep things naughty but nice.

Elaine Noon plays Annie, whose beloved husband John (Jonathan Garland) has cancer.  ‘‘The settee in the hospital relatives’ room is awful, with prongs that poke into you,’’ Noon says. The women decide on a fund-raiser to buy a new one. Annie’s best friend Chris (Naone Carrel) suggests that instead of a calendars featuring pictures of churches and bridges, the ladies provide their own spectacular views of the Women’s Institute.

 ‘‘Not every one of the women agrees to get their kit off,’’ Noon says. For most of the actresses, it will be their first time nude on stage, and Noon said initially she found it ‘‘petrifying’’. ‘‘But I guess the more we do it, the more comfortable I am with it.’’ Director Catherine Hill and the women in the cast – and the men, too – have been supportive and discreet, and Noon said she has found the experience ‘‘quite liberating’’.

Nikki-Lynne Hunter plays Celia, a wealthy ‘‘show pony’’ wife. She also found her first time being nude on stage ‘‘really liberating’’ and ‘‘great fun’’.

The more conservative Ruth (Megs Skillicorn) does not want to be in the calendar, but certain events in her life lead Ruth to change her mind. 

And there are other women, each with her own story, which is revealed over the course of the play. It’s also worth noting that the story inspired many of the cast to create their own version of the Calendar Girls calendar for charity, with photography by Petra Wiesner and produced by Stroudgate, to raise funds for the Leukaemia Foundation and the Monaro Committee for Cancer Research. It will be on sale during the run of the play for $10.

Calendar Girls is on at Theatre 3, 3 Repertory Lane, Acton, as follows: preview tonight  at 8pm, opening tomorrow at 8pm, then  8pm on Saturday, then Wednesday to Saturday at 8pm until March 2 with 2pm shows on February 23 and 24. Tickets $40/$35, all preview tickets $30. Bookings: 6257 1950 or canberrarep.org.au.

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