Am dram actresses do Calendar Girls strip at Sheringham to boost charity close to their hearts

Six women in an 'am dram' theatre company are plucking up courage to bare all as they stage a production of Calendar Girls.

And, like the original WI members who inspired the bitter sweet story, they are doing it for a cancer cause close to their hearts.

The true-life tale of the women who took on the institute traditionalists to do a nude calendar following the death of a member's husband went on to become a hit movie and stage show.

Next month an amateur production of the play will be staged by the Cromer and Sheringham Amateur Operatic and Dramatic Society, which lost member Shirley Lodge to cancer last year.

The show will raise cash for Leukaemia Research, with society spokesman Ruth Elliott saying: 'People wanted to do the show because so many families and friends are affected by cancer.'

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Any fears there might be a shortage of actresses wanting to take the main parts through shyness were misfounded with more than 30 auditioning for the key pin-up roles.

Among those doing the big reveal is Chrissie Robertson, who plays the role of Chris taken by Helen Mirren in the film.

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She said: 'The story is such a powerful one we wanted to be a part of it, particularly because so many people have been affected. There is a 'oh my god' moment when it comes to the nude scene, but I don't care. It is all about normal women of different shapes and sizes doing what we can.'

The photo shoot scene was very technical to preserve modesty, but it was just a small part of a play about the women's journey and relationships. 'We began doing it fully clothes, then in underwear, then gradually the layers have come off in front of the male photographer and male director,' explained Chrissie.

Rehearsals by the 14-strong cast have been going on since July - including the naked calendar shoot scene which involves 'many strategically-placed props,' added Mrs Elliott. And the carefully worked out positions done in a local school will have to be double-checked when rehearsals switch to Sheringham Little Theatre to ensure modesty is preserved from all the sight lines in the raked seating.

The cast has also had a morale-boosting message from show writer Tim Firth who said: 'Let me offer you my thanks for having the bravery to attempt Calendar Girls, and my sincerest wishes for a happy and rewarding run. May your theatre be warm in terms of attendance, response and also backstage heating.'

Calendar Girls is on at the Sheringham Little Theatre from October 16 to 20 at 7.30pm with a 2.30pm Saturday matinee too. Tickets are available from the Sheringham Little Theatre box office on 01263 822347

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