Get Ready to Craugh!

Calendar Girls Comes to Bluffton


February 2024 Issue

By Mary Addison
Photography By
Makeup By Crystal Nicole Artistry and Kathleen Artistry

The May River Theatre (MRT) is excited to continue a tradition of quality entertainment by opening its 2024 season with a production of Tim Firth’s heartwarming and hilarious play, Calendar Girls on February 23, 2024. He coined the word craugh, which means to cry and laugh all at the same time. Get ready to do some major craughing!

Elizabeth Schlieger, who is the production’s director and MRT Board President shared, “When choosing a season, we were looking for a balance of genres that would provide both enriching opportunities for community performers, while also connecting with our expanding audience. Calendar Girls seemed like an obvious choice for us. We have a great wealth of strong female performers in the greater Bluffton area, and this story celebrates the depth of hope and friendship, which resonates with our current patron base—which is predominantly women.”

This touching, yet hilarious, story evolves out of the tradition of the Women’s Institute (WI) and is based on the true story of eleven women who posed nude for a calendar to raise money for the Leukemia Research Fund. The WI, founded in 1915, applies an original goal of revitalizing rural areas and giving women a voice and platform to be a positive force within the community. Their mission is “to create a world where women come together to learn, share skills and work together to become active citizens, influencing change to improve lives in their local, national and global communities’’. (

“The Women’s Institute has been stereotyped as old ladies making jam and knitting, but in fact, they have made major contributions to things like health care, poverty, and education. This story is just one of many within the WI that gives us insight into what can be accomplished when a few ladies get together for a common goal,” said Liz McGinnes, who plays Chris. 

Through their mission, the WI connects, supports and empowers women. While the May River Theater platform is smaller, they also strive to provide opportunities for women within both the theater community and the community at large. The board president and vice-president, along with their head of technology and head of construction, are women who have brought life-long experiences to the group in an effort to enrich the live theater experience in Bluffton. The entire board understands the power of live theater and how the stories they choose to tell can both educate and entertain.

In addition to productions, May River Theater is an active member of the Bluffton community and works with various non-profits in the area. Much like the women who inspired Calendar Girls, the May River Theater cast of Calendar Girls has created a calendar to raise funds for an organization in need. All proceeds from the calendar sales will go to Hopeful Horizons, a group that supports women and children in their time of need.

The MRT cast of talented performers is composed of veteran and newbies: Liz McGinnes (Chris), Christine Grefe (Annie), Lyndsay Malphrus (Cora), Mary Metsker (Celia), Bernadette Braden (Jessie), Erica Rubin-Irish (Ruth), Gail Westerfield (Marie), Mike Quesnelle (John), Warren Cobb (Rod) and Jayme Brinson (Lawrence). You will enjoy hilarious moments provided by the supporting cast: Gweneth Sanders, Katy Salko, Lynne Hummell, Toye Hickman, Anne Prianti and Barbara Thomas.CalendarGirls0224 1

“I’m so excited to get to help tell this sweet story about coming out of our comfort zones, evolving, losing loved ones, and the unshakeable love of friendship,” said Mary Metsker.

May River Theatre is a local theatre company started by Ed & Jodie Dupuis in 2002. Currently, there are seven board members committed to engaging the Bluffton community through a breadth of quality theatrical performances facilitating growth in both production and theatrical experiences. Board members are actively involved both in front of and behind the curtain.

Upcoming 2024 productions include Cabaret (April), Lend Me a Tenor (June) and Carrie (October). For more information on tickets, sponsorships, gift certificates, and becoming part of the MRT family, please visit

Calendar Girls is an adaptation of the Miramax movie featuring Helen Mirran, co-written by Tim Firth and Juliette Towhidi. Calendar Girls is presented by arrangement with Concord Theatricals on behalf of Samuel French, Inc.

When You Go:
Feb. 23, 24 & Mar 1 & 2: 7:30 pm; Feb 25 & Mar 3: 2 pm

To purchase tickets, log on to: or go directly to ticketing at Tickets, calendars and general sponsorship/advertisement opportunities can be found via either link.

Purchase your Bluffton Calendar Girls calendar at
Eggsntricities, 5 Lawton St., Downtown Bluffton.

Leave a comment

You are commenting as guest.