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Ladies set to peel off in record-breaking bid
WOMEN across Oxfordshire are going to need plenty of props to preserve their modesty as they get ready to strip on stage.
A series of performances of the hit show Calendar Girls is planned across the county after the rights were relaxed for charity.
Amateur drama groups are being allowed to put on the show for an 18-month period to raise money for Leukaemia and Lymphoma Research.
They will also aim to break the Guinness World Record for the number of amateur performances of the same show in 18 months.
Calendar Girls is the real-life story of a group of Women’s Institute members who take off their clothes for a nude calendar to raise money for leukaemia research.
It became a global success after being launched as a film starring Helen Mirren and Julie Walters in 2003.
Rose Weakley, 52, of the Chinnor Players, will be starring in a production of the show at Chinnor Village Hall from October 11 to 13.
She said: “We were looking for a play with lots of female characters because we are very short of men and when I saw we could do Calendar Girls we took it on.”
The play’s famous scene – a photo shoot for the nude calendar involving strategically-placed props including flowers, fruit and buns – will see the amateur actresses stand behind props on stage.
Mrs Weakley said: “It is just one scene and we have rehearsed and rehearsed and rehearsed it, so hopefully we have got it right.”
The players have produced a calendar of their own to raise money for Leukaemia and Lymphoma Research and have already sold more than 100 copies.
Mrs Weakley – who features in the January photo shoot – said: “You can see legs and shoulders but nothing you should not see.
“It is very tastefully done.”
The producers of Calendar Girls are charging £100 per performance to put on the show, with a percentage going to the leukaemia charity.
Nearly 400 groups across the country have signed up so far.
Margaret Hamm, 64, will star as Celia in Witney Dramatic Society’s performance at High Street Methodist Church from October 10 to 13.
She said: “We were apprehensive in the beginning because we thought, ‘oh gosh, we have got to take our clothes off,’ but you do not actually see anything.
“We are trying to get that right and it’s more nerve-wracking than normal.”
Banbury Cross Players will join Cropredy Harlequins and The Henley Players for the play later this year.
Linda Shaw, 46, of the Banbury Cross Players, said: “It is quite rare that amateur players get the authority to do something that has been done by professionals so quickly.
“It is also a nice opportunity for us to do a production with women in it. It is a great play about women – girl power and all that.”
The show, at The Mill Arts Centre in November and December, has already sold 40 per cent of its tickets and organisers are considering adding another date.
Miss Shaw said: “People will be coming to see their family and support people they know, but I am sure some will be coming to take the mick out of them at the bar afterwards.”