Laughter Through Tears

Laughter Through Tears

When you go to the theater, do you prefer a comedy? Or would you rather watch a tear-jerking drama? Director Eric Wells says Fort Smith Little Theatre has all the bases covered with its production of Tim Firth’s “Calendar Girls.”

“There’s not a moment when I’m not laughing, but there are also moments when I’ll turn to [assistant director] Jamie [Lambdin] and she’ll have tears running down her face,” says Wells. “There’s comedy, and sad moments, and then it has the moments that make you happy cry. Some of my actors are even struggling to stay in character because they’re starting to cry on stage!”

The play is the rollicking story of a group of women who decide to raise money for a local hospital. The comedy comes in when they hatch their plan for raising funds: They decide to publish a calendar of the women performing banal acts of housework — while nude. The pathos? The idea to raise funds arose because the husband of one of the women died after a long battle with leukemia.

“There are times on stage when it’s really intense — you could cut the tension with a knife,” observes Wells.

“Not only do we get a chance to give the audience some wonderful moments to have just some big old belly laughs, but we are also getting to spread a message,” says Susan Hickman, who plays Chris in the show. “It has something that will touch everyone’s lives, from illness to loss to friendships — and to see how all of those things can be represented in just a two-hour play and to get that kind of range of emotion, not just for the actors but for the audience, is amazing.”

The large cast of 14 includes some actors new to the FSLT stage as well as a host of veterans.

“We have put Eric through the wringer,” says Hickman, laughing. “He has everyone in this play — he has the president of the board, active board members and cast members who have been a part of the theater for years. He has really had to put up with us — but he’s wonderful. He can do anything, whether it’s musicals or dramas or time period pieces.”



‘Calendar Girls’

WHEN — 7:30 p.m. April 5-7; 2 p.m. April 8; again April 11-14

WHERE — Fort Smith Little Theatre at 401 N. Sixth St.

COST — Opening night, $27; other shows, $12

INFO — 783-2966

Categories: Entertainment, Theater