Members of dramatic society learn T’ai Chi for stage performance of famous WI calendar film.

The Harrogate Dramatic Society Calendar Girls go through their T'ai Chi routine.
The Harrogate Dramatic Society Calendar Girls go through their T'ai Chi routine.

With less than a week before the play opens, the Harrogate Dramatic Society cast of Calendar Girls have been fine-tuning newly-acquired skills.

It may be one thing to learn how to strip down to birthday suits with decency on stage, they also have to learn how to become proficient at T’ai Chi, the Chinese martial art practised for health as well as for defence.

Two of their number also had to learn how to master the art of playing badminton on stage.

The T’ai Chi sequence is a crucial scene involving the Calendar Girls at the opening and at the end of the play. And, to get that right, the girls needed expert tuition.

A call to Brimhams Gymn at the Hydro in Harrogate revealed just the expert they needed. Breffni Fergus Groome, the 42-year-old Fitness Duty Officer answered the call. With twenty-two years experience in Chinese health and martial arts Breffni agreed to coach the Calendar Girls.

For the past few weeks he has been patiently schooling them in a basic warm-up section of the Sun style of the exotic-sounding 98 step Sun Style Taijiquan, and, with a little artistic licence an exercise known as “Reaching for Heaven and Earth”.

The two badminton players , Rachel Conyers and Jenny Humphreys not only have to play badminton convincingly on stage but also have to conduct a meaningful dialogue without the shuttlecock flying off into the audience. Of the two - T’ai Chi and badminton - it’s hard to say which is the most challenging skill.

Rachel Conyers may seem to have the edge over her badminton opponent in that she is fully kitted out in full badminton kit -- skirt, top and trainers -- by Yonex UK but, how much difference it makes to the quality of her play will only be revealed next week.

Tickets for the Calendar Girls are selling fast so don’t delay booking for what promises to be a first-rate, funny and moving show.

The HDS production runs for five performances from Wednesday October 3 until Saturday October 6.

Nightly performances begin at 7.30 pm with a Saturday matinee starting at 2.30 p.m.

Tickets are available from the Theatre box office on 01423 502116 or online at www. harrogatetheatre.co.uk