‘Calendar Girls’ opens at Snowmass Chapel, cast makes calendar to fundraise for Pathfinders

Jessica Cabe
The cast of "Calendar Girls" rehearses at Snowmass Chapel about a week before opening night. The play is based on the 2003 movie of the same name
Jessica Cabe / Post Independent |

If You Go...

What: ‘Calendar Girls’

When: 7 p.m. March 12-14, 19-21, 26-28

Where: Snowmass Chapel, 5307 Owl Creek Road in Snowmass Village

How Much: Suggested $20 donation

In 1999, a group of women in Yorkshire decided to pose nude for a calendar in order to raise money for a new sofa in the visitor’s lounge of the hospital where one of their husbands was treated for cancer.

To date, the women have raised more than 3 million pounds ($4.6 million) for leukemia and lymphoma research with calendars and a merchandise line. Their story was turned into a movie, “Calendar Girls,” in 2003, and five years later was adapted into a stage play by the same name.

That play will run for three weekends at Snowmass Chapel starting on Thursday, March 12. And although putting on the play and spreading its message of ingenuity for charity could in itself help cancer fighters, the cast wanted to do something a little more concrete.

So they recreated the calendar, posing nude but discreetly covering up anything that couldn’t appear on television, and have been selling the calendar all along they valley since January. In Glenwood, it is available at Book Train and Marianne’s Boutique in the Cancer Center at Valley View Hospital. All proceeds from the calendar will benefit Pathfinders, an organization that operates valley-wide to assist people going through a long-term illness. Profits from ticket sales will also be donated.

Multiple cast members have gone through their own bouts of cancer, including Tammy Baar, who plays Cora.

“I went through breast cancer last fall, and I was right in the middle of cancer treatments when somebody sent me the information about this show,” Baar said. “The calendar was shot right in the middle of treatments for me, so it was not fun, and I did not want to do it, but I did it. And I’m glad we did it. I figure I’ll always look at it and know what was going on with me at the time, and Pathfinders was an amazing organization for me. They were saving my life last fall. So I definitely wanted to be able to give back to them.”

Chip Winn Wells, who plays Jessie, has dealt with two bouts of cancer since June. She said Pathfinders is and organization that looks beyond the obvious needs of someone struggling with long-term health issues and fills in where traditional care ends.

“We have three people in our cast for sure that have gone for radiation and in some cases chemo treatments at Valley View Cancer Center, and I know that Pathfinders provided in some cases meals, in some cases rides, sometimes just hand holding,” Wells said. “You can have a whole family of support, and when you’re going to treatment every day, sometimes family just can’t do it. They can’t get away. And Pathfinders fills that gap.”

The idea to put on “Calendar Girls” and raise money for Pathfinders came from director Paul Dankers, who is the music and IT director at Snowmass Chapel.

“I was hearing from all these close friends that they had breast cancer or some other kind of cancer,” Dankers said. “And it was shocking how many people dealt with it just in the course of this last year, one after the next after the next, and Tammy was one of them. And I thought, ‘This is the right time to do this show because of what’s going on here.’ I wanted to use the show to help them, if there was a way that I could do that.”

Dankers first reached out to Wendy Perkins, who plays Chris, and asked her if she would be interested in the role. She said yes, and she also came up with the idea to create the calendar.

“I got very excited about it,” Perkins said. “I love the movie, and I love the idea of working with a bunch of women in an ensemble piece, and I love the idea of it being a benefit for an organization that absolutely deserves it.”

Wells said even aside from the charity that’s connected to this production, the play itself will provide an enjoyable, emotional experience for the audience.

“It’s a very, very human play,” Wells said. “I think everyone is going to relate to much of it, at least part of it, because it does address very well things that happen when the best of friends are in turmoil over this, that or whatever.”

Wells said the true story that the play is based on is an inspiring example of what people can accomplish when they get creative.

“When you have a sick friend, more often than not people say, ‘If there’s anything I can do…’” she said. “And the person says, ‘You can pray, you can send me healing energy,’ but these women did those things and more. They came up with a concrete thing that they could do. And I have respect for that because it’s such a relief to know that somebody is coming up with a human response to a very human reality. Their idea to raise money by posing nude for a calendar is pretty creative, I think.”

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