AS A piece of theatre it’s most famous for the scenes when the stars strip off.
But the latest production of the play Calendar Girls is more than skin deep.
Kate Tappy, the director of Hayling Island Amateur Dramatic Society (HIADS), is taking on the much-loved show later this month and is keen to bring the focus back to the important message at the heart of it.
The play is based on the true story of a WI member whose husband dies and together the group begin fundraising to buy a comfortable new sofa for the waiting room of the local hospital.
They hit upon the idea of posing semi nude for a charity calendar and are so successful they buy an entire new wing for the hospital.
Kate said: ‘We’re not really nervous about shedding our clothes.
‘There are some groups in the country who are taking a much more brazen attitude towards it but the story is about a group of older women, in the WI, who were absolutely terrified about posing semi nude for anything.
‘It’s not supposed to be flashy.
‘They were very, very ordinary women who did something quite extraordinary – and that’s the essence of it.
‘We’re having good fun but don’t want to lose the essence of the play.
‘We want people to be aware of what it was about.’
The story was made into a hit 2003 film starring Oscar winner Dame Helen Mirren, Julie Walters and Penelope Wilton. The play has been performed by professional groups up and down the country. It has now been released to amateur theatre groups for one year.
Usually play royalties go to the publisher but those from this production will be going to Leukaemia and Lymphoma Research.
Kate, who is in charge of a cast of 14 men and women who range in age from their early 40s to their 60s, added: ‘Everyone is very excited. We had no trouble casting it at all. The team we have got are smashing and get on very well. It’s super.
‘We salute the original group of women from the WI, we applaud their achievement, and we hope to do justice to their story in our own production.’
The cast have also produced their own 2013 calendar which is on sale now. All the money raised will go to The Rowans Hospice, Purbrook.
Buy the calendar, for £5, from the Station Theatre, West Town, Hayling Florist, in Eastoke, Hayling Island Book Shop, in Mengham and the The Maypole Inn, Havant Road, Hayling Island.
The HIADS production of Calendar Girls, by Tim Firth, will run from Saturday October 20 to Saturday October 27.
Tickets can be bought from the Station Theatre box office which is open Monday to Saturday 10am to midday.
Call the box office on (023) 9246 6363. For more details go to hayling-dramatics.hampshire.org.uk.