Beginning March 18, 2022, Silhouette Stages will be presenting “Calendar Girls” by Tim Firth at Slayton House in Columbia, Maryland. It is based on the motion picture of the same name by Firth and Juliette Towhidi. The production is produced and directed by Connie Ross. A special calendar will be available for purchase as it was to be the 2020 production, with the proceeds going to the Leukemia Foundation.
Silhouette Stages’ production of “Calendar Girls” is one of the many examples of the disruption to theatres caused by the pandemic.
Early in 2020, I did an interview with Conni Ross for their upcoming production of “Calendar Girls” that was posted on March 7, 2020 for their opening on March 20th. (You can read the interview here.) The pandemic struck and the show was postponed indefinitely. Connie Ross and Silhouette Stages were determined that the show go on, even if it was two years later. I contacted Ms. Ross again for a brand new interview.
The cast presently is Cora -Cheryl Campo*, Chris-Debby Mobley, Anne-Julie Press, Jessie-Andrea Ostrowski Wildason*, Celia-Ande Kolp*, Ruth-Tatiana Dalton*, Marie-Suzanne Young, Brenda-Terry Chambers Muldoon*, John-Russell Wooldridge, Rod-Jeff Dunne, Lady Cravenshire-Kathy Marshall, Lawrence-Robert Howard, Elaine-Mary Guay Kramer*, and Liam-Neal Townsend*. (* indicates new cast members for 2022 production.) The production team includes Stage Manager, Dana Bonistalli; Set Design, Rebecca Hanauer; Light Design, Charlie Danforth; Costumes, Lynn Kellner; Props/Set Dressing, Jessie Krupkin and Bill Pond; Sound Design, Ethan Hogarty; and Dialect Coach, Claire Sherman
“Calendar Girls” follows Annie and her best friend, Chris, after Annie’s husband dies. They try to raise money for a local hospital with the help of four friends. As a means to solicit donations, they decide to pose nude for a risqué calendar. This gets noticed worldwide while the women face the real meaning of their friendship. The play is a fine comedy that will make you feel inspired along with some tugs on your heartstrings.
Conni Ross is thrilled to be directing “Calendar Girls.” Conni studied voice performance and theatre at Indiana University and has performed and directed in the Baltimore area, the Midwest and on the West Coast. In 2019, she directed the award-winning production of “Anything Goes” for Silhouette Stages. A couple of favorite roles are Reno Sweeney and Hope Harcourt in “Anything Goes;” Betty Blake in “The Will Rogers Follies;” Marian in “The Music Man;” Golda in “Fiddler on the Roof;” and Abigail Adams in “1776.” Some favorite shows she has directed include “Forum,” “Curtains,” “The Full Monty,” “Spamalot,” “Chicago, “Drowsy Chaperone,” “Lucky Stiff,” “The Fantasticks,” and “Noises Off.”
It’s been two years since we last chatted. How have you fared during this crazy time?
It’s been an interesting two years. The last time we chatted, I was about to become a grandmother for the first time. We didn’t get to see our grandson until he was a year old because of travel restrictions due to Covid. When we were finally able to meet up, we all had to travel to Croatia because of restrictions where everyone lives. Thank goodness we are able to video chat regularly and he knows who we are! I have stayed healthy and I was very fortunate to do quite a lot of traveling in 2021.
Due to the pandemic, have you had to make any changes in cast or crew in “Calendar Girls?”
Unfortunately, we have had to make some changes. After two years, I guess it was inevitable, although I had hoped to keep as all together. We were in final tech when the show was cancelled so the original cast was very close and losing some members was hard but distance, health, and jobs are realities of life. I can say the new cast members are amazing and bring a very distinct energy to the production. I am loving the rehearsal process and watching the dynamics within the cast. Nuances and line deliveries are different and it is unbelievable and so enjoyable to watch. It’s exactly what theatre should be. Each actor bringing their character to life on stage is mesmerizing to watch. For me as the director it is so rewarding.
Has Silhouette Stages had to make changes due to the pandemic and what would they be?Silhouette Stages has implemented significant mitigation measures to ensure that our cast, crew, and audience have a safe and enjoyable theatrical experience. At this time, audience safety measures include a requirement to wear masks while inside the building, temperature checks will be taken at the door with a touchless digital thermometer, and proof of vaccine must be shown upon entry. For the cast and crew, we are conducting similar measures, along with daily health check-ins to ensure that nobody is showing symptoms. At all rehearsals and performances, we are running multiple air purifiers with HEPA filters and encouraging frequent use of hand sanitizer. While our safety measures may go beyond those implemented by some of our sister community theaters, we felt that the health and safety of our volunteers and patrons was our number one priority. Our entire updated COVID-19 Safety Policy is available on our website.
What are your concerns about your March opening because of the new variants?
We don’t any concerns specifically related to the new variants. Our primary concerns are that both our rehearsal and performance space is rented and we are at the mercy of their protocols and restrictions. In March 2020, it was the closure of Slayton House Theater that ultimately forced us to cancel our production. There is certainly some level of risk there. However, with the COVID cases in Howard County trending in the right direction and our comprehensive COVID-19 Safety Plan now in effect, we feel confident about moving forward with the production!
In your own words, can you tell our readers why you would wish they would come and see “Calendar Girls?”
It’s been a long two years and we’ve missed all of our audience members, volunteers, and cast members very much. I hope the community will come out and support Silhouette Stages as we produce our first show in two years. Silhouette Stages has a commitment and passion for the community and it is what has allowed us to, and I quote you, Susan, “endure as the only successful, continual and totally amateur theatre group in Howard County, not including those connected with schools and colleges.”
When I proposed “Calendar Girls” to the board, I wanted to direct it not only because it has a strong message about the fight against Leukemia, but it is also about the power of friendship and the importance of having someone to lean into. No one walks alone.
To some the many months of solitude because of Covid restrictions makes the message of friendship even more poignant. I hope the community will come join the ladies as they celebrate their friendship as they find a way to raise money for their cause.
We are doing another calendar in hopes of raising money to make a donation to the Leukemia Foundation. I’m inviting our theatre community and friends will buy calendars in support of the show and Silhouette Stages.
To quote our Celia…“Get down to the WI girls. Come and hang out with the real women of this county and learn a little debauchery before it’s too bloody late.” Cheers.
“Calendar Girls” presented by Silhouette Stages runs from March 18-April 3, 2022 at Slayton House (in the Wilde Lake Village Center), 10400 Cross Fox Lane, Columbia, MD 21044. Go to their website for tickets and information.