Last week I was invited down to the Sunderland Empire to preview Gary Barlow and Tim Firth’s musical comedy, CALENDAR GIRLS the Musical! Unfortunately, I came down with a 24-hour bug and couldn’t make it myself but fear not I did send my Mam and Aunty along to gather their thoughts for you lot.
Based on the true story, the film and the award-winning play by Tim Firth, Calendar Girls will be hit the Sunderland Empire stage last week from, Tuesday 19 – Saturday 23 March 2019. My aunty has read the book and seen the film, already a fan she was keen to see how the story would unfold on stage.
The tour has a star studded cast including television presenter Fern Britton, who is returning to the stage for the first time in 30 years, as Marie, Anna-Jane Casey (Billy Elliot on tour, Stepping Out in London’s West End, title role in Annie Get Your Gun at Sheffield Crucible) as Annie, Sara Crowe (West End roles include Bedroom Farce, The Real Inspector Hound & Black Comedy and Hay Fever) as Ruth, Karen Dunbar (BBC1 Scotland’s sketch shows The Karen Dunbar Show and Chewin’ The Fat, Shakespeare Trilogy and Henry IV at the Donmar Warehouse & St Ann’s Warehouse, New York, The Guid Sisters for the National Theatre of Scotland, Men Should Weep at the National Theatre London, Mary, Queen of Scots) as Cora, Ruth Madoc (Hi-De-Hi, Little Britain and Gypsy) as Jessie, Rebecca Storm (discovered by Willy Russell and cast as Mrs Johnstone in Blood Brothers, and her handprints are part of the Dublin’s Gaiety Theatre Walk of Fame) as Chris and North East actress Denise Welch (The Rise and Fall of Little Voice, Coronation Street and Waterloo Road) as Celia.
Also, joining the cast will be Phil Corbitt as John, Ian Mercer as Rod, Sebastian Aberneri as Colin, Alan Stocks as Denis, Pauline Daniels as Lady Cravenshire, Ellie Leah as Miss Wilson, Catherine Digges as Miss Wilson, Danny Howker as Danny and Tyler Dobbs as Tommo.
Gary Barlow and Tim Firth grew up in the same village in the North of England and have been friends for 25 years. With Take That, Gary has written and co-written 14 number one singles, has sold over 50 million records worldwide and is a six times Ivor Novello Award winner. Tim has won the Olivier Award and UK Theatre Award for Best New Musical, and the British Comedy Awards Best Comedy Film for Calendar Girls.
The storyline itself is inspired by the true story of a group of ladies, who decide to appear nude for a Women’s Institute calendar in order to raise funds to buy a settee for their local hospital, in memory of one of their husbands, and have to date raised almost £5million for Bloodwise. This musical comedy shows life in their Yorkshire village, how it happened, the effect on husbands, sons and daughters, and how a group of ordinary ladies achieved something extraordinary.
Bloodwise, the UK’s specialist blood cancer charity, will continue to receive monies from this production.
CALENDAR GIRLS The Musical is produced by David Pugh & Dafydd Rogers, directed by Matt Ryan and designed by Robert Jones, with comedy staging by Jos Houben, movement by Lucy Hind and casting by Sarah Bird.
My Mam and aunty had a fantastic evening at the preview and said the show was a great reflection of the book and the film. The actors were touching and played a real authentic part, especially Denise Welch. They both would 100% recommemd. Make sure you grab a ticket when the musical comes to a theatre near you!
*I was gifted tickets to the show but all thoughts and opinions are my own.