REVIEW | Calendar Girls The Musical - UK Tour.


Calendar Girls 
De Montfort Hall, Leicester
★★

Probably one of the most highly anticipated performances for me this Autumn. It was only last year that the musical received glowing reviews during its West End run at the Phoenix Theatre.  I was gutted that I was too late to see it! So imagine my relief when news had it Gary Barlow and Tim Firth have updated the musical slightly and now it's touring around the UK. 

Taken from the 2003 film Calendar Girls and an acclaimed 2008 stage version in Leeds, the true story of Yorkshire's own Calendar Girls will inspire and empower female audiences throughout the UK. It follows the story of a group of ordinary ladies from their local WI group who achieved something extraordinary together. Whilst a highly emotional motive at its core, the combination of humour with emotion creates something truly special in theatre. 

The storyline is sensitive and heartrending, touching on the situations that affect so many people. A group of ladies are brought together by the loss of Annie's (Anna-Jane Casey) husband John to cancer. Her friends at the local WI come together to do something positive to help and its down one friend, Chris (Rebecca Storm) that recreates their annual calendar to raise money for a sofa in the hospital where Annie's husband was treated. 

The musical has a really great ability to offset those tough moments in the story with witty one-liners and funny moments that grasps the audience's interest. It was exceptionally well written by Barlow and Firth and every individual character is well thought through. 

The relationship between the characters is spot on from the get-go, there's a gorgeous sense of community, particularly in the times of hardship. The first half doesn't allow much depth to each of the characters but the second half definitely makes up for that where we witness their stories a lot more. The finale scenes are definitely the pinnacle of the show. Not only are the 'calendar shoot' scenes hilarious but extremely tasteful and extremely empowering for women of all shapes and sizes. The cheers and applause from the audience acknowledged the bravery and beautiful of those women up on stage, it really was something. 


The casting for this musical is well executed with its line up of 'celebrities' who contribute their own fun personalities to their characters well. This production stars Fern Britton, Anna-Jane Casey, Sara Crowe, Karen Dunbar, Ruth Madoc, Rebecca Storm and Denise Welch as the group of Calendar Girls. The cast is stellar and their chemistry is fantastic between one another. The impact of the story doesn't get distracted from having such a celebrity cast and the audience enjoyed their characters a lot it seemed. My heart broke for Anna-Jane Casey as she portrayed the pain and grief in her character and she sang "Killimanjaro" and "Time Passing". 

The set is simplistic but Robert Jones does something beautiful and captures the rolling Yorkshire hills as the centre point. The lighting, designed by Oliver Fenwick is subtle and profound as it allows the characters to really bring the story to life. 

All in all this new UK Tour is definitely worth a visit. It combines a sensitive, emotional story with comedy and humour and does the job so tastefully. The music is extremely varied and interesting in their contribution to the story with some standout numbers including "Dare", "Yorkshire" and "Sunflower of Yorkshire" which were my absolute favourites. If you've seen the film, original play or the West End production and you're a fan then you'll definitely enjoy this as much as the first time you ever heard of the story. The women in Calendar Girls will inspire you to empower and cherish the other females in your life. 

Calendar Girls is performing at De Montfort Hall in Leicester until 20 October. You can find out more details of their entire UK Tour here.

If you enjoyed reading this review then you may also enjoy reading my thoughts on Cilla - The Musical

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