Calendar Girls – The Musical, currently playing at the New Victoria Theatre, Woking, is based on the true story of a group of Yorkshire women from the close knit village of Knapely, who decided to create a nude calendar to raise money for Leukaemia (which subsequently went on to raise millions of pounds for charity, Spinoffs including an Academy Award winning film version and also one of the most successful British Plays of this century).
The story has more recently become a stage musical penned by Tim Firth and Take That’s Gary Barlow. It is this incarnation which is currently visiting Woking.
Denise Welch, Rebecca Storm, Sara Crowe, Pauline Daniels, Anna-Jane Casey and Karen Dunbar appear in this show as the incredible “Calendar Centrefolds” and I was surprised and delighted to see Fern Britton treading the boards as Marie, the stern and matriarchal head of the local WI group.
It would be most unwise or fair of me to single out any one individual as each and every member of this cast shone brilliantly in their own Individual way. But highlights for me included the heart touching “Scarborough” sung by Anna-Jane Casey in the lead role of Annie, her grief was almost too palpable to watch and I was left imagining and dreading what it would be like to lose my own partner who was sat next to me. Also the Christmas concert scene, Played by Karen Dunbar’s Cora, is also especially brilliant.
The now infamous nude photo shoot is handled with great style and dignity – as well as the strategic use of iced cherry cakes and includes the classic one liners such as “I think we will need considerably larger buns”.
At the end of the 2nd half I was again choking back tears as the girls tell Annie they’ve raised enough money not just to buy a sofa but to buy …….. well you’ll have to watch it yourself.
This is definitely a musical that will leave you feeling moved and cherishing your friends and family and an interesting fact is that the “Original Girls” have now raised nearly £5 Million for the Charity.
Thank you to the whole cast for a wonderful Evening, and if you’re reading this, I urge you to catch this show when it comes to a town near you.
Reviewed by Neil Mcfarlane
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