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Home Made Theater's ‘Calendar Girls’ covers up script’s bare spots

Home Made Theater's ‘Calendar Girls’ covers up script’s bare spots

It was F. Scott Fitzgerald who said there are no second acts in American lives. The same might be sa

It was F. Scott Fitzgerald who said there are no second acts in American lives. The same might be said of “Calendar Girls,” whose first act rises to a glorious and fun-filled climax, but whose second act is a long denouement. Author Tim Firth tries to make us care about a few sources of conflict that have been alluded to in Act I, but we don’t much — and the problems just sort of go away.

Not the fault of the cast or the director, Dianne O’Neill Filer. They gamely work through poignant moments, aptly touching a nerve or two over Act II’s eight scenes (thus belying the play’s source as a film), but by the time 10:30 rolls around and you feel that the highlight of the night was at 9:20, you know Firth has come up short.

Scenic designer Kevin Miller has fashioned a handsome set for this story of a group of middle-aged women in rural England who gather, with increasing boredom, for Women’s Institute meetings on topics like broccoli. Led by martinet Marie (Robin Leary), the club produces a yearly calendar, replete with bucolic scenes, to raise money, but when John (Dennis Skiba), Annie’s (Devra Cohen-Tigor) husband, becomes terminally ill, the women concoct a theme for a new kind of calendar themselves, in various states of undress to generate income for the local hospital.

Calendar Girls

WHERE: Home Made Theater, Spa Little Theater, Saratoga Spa State Park

WHEN: Through May 1

HOW MUCH: $27 and $24

MORE INFO: 587-4427 or http://www.homemadetheater.org

Shedding conventional ideas as well as their clothes, the six women — played, in addition to Cohen-Tigor, by Anne-Marie Baker, Joan Meyer, Terri Storti, Janice Walz, and Camille West — succeed, and then some. Money rolls in; thank-you notes from cancer patients and their families appear in the women’s mailboxes; and the sextet survives a few internecine difficulties.

Producer Stacie Mayette Barnes and HMT mainstay Filer have once again assembled a crack tech team, including lighting by Jaime Martinez, costumes by Linda Bertrand, sound by Perrin Jones, stage management by Christine O’Connell, and props by Mary Fran Hughes.

Leary serves as a fine foil to the calendar girls, getting off a rip-roaring monologue in Act II. Griffin McPherson amuses as a young photographer on his most unusual assignment ever. The calendar girls themselves couldn’t be a better assortment of types — physical, temperamental. Baker calculates the transformation of timid Ruth just right. West is a fine pianist, and I suspect she had something to do with training her cast mates to sing, nobly and movingly, Sir Hubert Parry’s “Jerusalem.” Meyer is convincing as Chris, a woman with ideas and energy enough to keep such a challenging project going. Cohen-Tigor and Skiba are affecting as a couple in crisis in Act I, and elsewhere Cohen-Tigor strikes a fine balance between touching and light-hearted. Finally, Storti and Walz have the best speaking voices for Spa Little Theater’s rather cavernous stage; every word is loud and clear, and their deliveries are spot-on hysterical.

So hats off and everything else, I guess, to HMT for covering up the script’s bare spots.

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