The Sunderland Empire strips back!

Julie Johns with fellow staff at the Sunderland Empire promoting Calendar Girls.
Julie Johns with fellow staff at the Sunderland Empire promoting Calendar Girls.
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ICE cream anyone? Staff at the Sunderland Empire put on a real show in a bid to get the city showing some bare-faced cheek.

The theatre’s front-of-house team went (almost) full frontal to launch our Calendar Girl competition, encouraging readers to strip off.

Andrew Watson at the Sunderland Empire promoting Calendar Girls.

Andrew Watson at the Sunderland Empire promoting Calendar Girls.

Like the stars of the famous film and spin-off stage show, which comes to the Empire later this month, we want you to come up with some imaginative naked poses to win a top prize.

We want boys and girls to send in their snaps holding something related to their job or hobby – like the women’s institute (WI) members behind Calendar Girls – to hide their modesty.

At the Empire, staff came up with some interesting photo props including beer pumps, an ice cream tray and the venue’s distinctive red chairs.

Sara Rigg, front-of-house associate, said: “Everyone really enjoyed the shoot. It was fun, which is true to the spirit of the play.

“I look forward to seeing what entries come in. It will be interesting meeting them face to face at the shows.

“We had fun coming up with ideas in the office. There was a few extravagant suggestions.”

Fellow front-of-house associate, Andrew Watson, also proved a good sport, posing with a tray of ice creams.

The 24-year-old said: “I saw the show when it was at the Empire earlier this year, it’s really good. I was all for it when they suggested this shoot in the office, but I’m sure I’ll get some ribbing from the lads at the cricket club when they see the pictures.”

Entries need to be received by Monday, September 12, when we will host a text vote to decide the winner.

They will receive four tickets and VIP treatment for the show on September 16, plus a pamper session from Reds salon including a hair makeover.

Lynda Bellingham, star of Calendar Girls, said “It would be fantastic to see the people of Sunderland enter into the spirit of Calendar Girls and have a bit of fun.

“People who have seen the show will know exactly the kind of poses we are looking for – think buns, knitting, gardening, painting, maybe something work-related. The more inventive the better!

“I hope that there are a lot of lovely, daring women (and men) in this city who will feel really liberated and empowered by the experience.

“I’m pleased to launch the competition with our very first entry featuring staff names from the Sunderland Empire and I’m really looking forward to seeing more entries and meeting the winner.”

Calendar Girls is inspired by the true story of a group of extraordinary women, all members of an ordinary WI, who persuade one another to pose for a charity calendar.

When the ladies stripped off in 1998 they had no idea they would spark a global phenomenon. As well as books, a film and stage show based on their idea, they’ve managed to raise £3million for Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research.

* Calendar Girls is at the Sunderland Empire from September 12-17. Tickets costing £12.50-£29.50 are available {http://www.SunderlandEmpire.org.uk,by clicking here} or calling the 24 Hour Box Office on 0844 871 3022.

Follow Echo reporter Katy Wheeler on Twitter