• Laurel Contributor

For women, by Women

by Luke Osteen

“Calendar Girls” inspires a real-life Calendar Girls Calendar to benefit REACH of Macon County.

When the Highlands Cashiers Players decided to perform “Calendar Girls” for their Spring production, an idea began to form in the minds of Laurel Publishers Janet Cummings and Marjorie Christiansen, and their Studio 106 partners, Susan Renfro and Colleen Kerrigan.

The play, based on the true story of a group of middle-aged English women who decide to pose nude for a calendar to raise funds for leukemia, seemed like a good match for the talent pool of the Players. It’s warm, heartfelt, and infused with splashes of gentle humor.

Well, reasoned the four business partners, why couldn’t we produce a calendar using the “Calendar” actresses to raise money for a worthy cause, say, REACH of Macon County?

Susan and Colleen, whose studio is capable of all sorts of projects, including calendars, immediately sparked with ideas.

“The play itself intrigued me, but I couldn’t participate in it,” Colleen said. “When the idea of doing a calendar came up — with the intent of helping a good cause — I thought this would be a great way to get involved.”

Laurel would design the calendar and underwrite the cost of printing, but there was one potential hurdle that could prevent the idea from ever being produced.

For an actual calendar, the actresses would have to work up the courage displayed by their British role models and shed the undergarments, clothed only in smiles.

It turned out not to be a worry at all. Every actress agreed to the proposal, enthusiastic that their calendar would benefit local women and children in need.

The day of the shoot arrived and inhibitions and clothes were easily shed for the camera.

“We had a lot of fun planning and gathering the props for each month’s shoot and I really enjoyed getting to know all of the cast and participants,” says Colleen.

“The mood was festive, brave, and empowering,” says Marjorie. “Champagne was served, music was playing, and there was a lot of laughter. And all of the women stripped down, just like the original Calendar Girls.”

The result was a tasteful calendar with just the right level of cheek (wink, wink) that was clearly produced under happy circumstances.

The calendar was printed locally at The Business Spot and within a matter of days, all of the calendars had been purchased, and since all of the parties waived any fees, all of the proceeds – $2,700 – would go directly to REACH, which provides assistance to victims of domestic violence.

“I have been familiar with and a supporter of REACH since its inception and was proud to take the offer to the women who would ‘star’ in the calendar,” says “Calendar Girls” Director Rick Siegel.

“I personally have faced some very challenging times and it always seems to be angels in the form of women who care enough to step up and help when I needed it most,” says “Calendar” actress Kaye McHan. “I hope the calendar will serve that purpose for children and women who currently need an angel.”

“It was a project like no other, a labor of love with a strong team of players both behind the scenes and up-close and personal,” says Susan.

“Marjorie and I have always strived to give back to the community, and this was a wonderful, bold, and fun way to raise money and awareness for this amazing organization,” says Janet.

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