The day after I saw this beautiful piece of musical theatre came the heartbreaking announcement of its closure. Its set to close this July and let me tell you, it’ll be a huge loss for the West-End. So here I am to tell you why you should get a wiggle on down to the Phoenix Theatre and see this beautifully written, touching but hilarious production of Calendar Girls The Musical.
This musical comedy is based on the award-winning movie “Calendar Girls” and tells the true story of the loveable women of a Yorkshire W.I uniting together to create a nude calendar with strictly “no front bottoms” to raise money for a charity close to all of their hearts.
The musical was created by the incredible Gary Barlow and Tim Firth who together have formed the most wonderful collaboration. The soundtrack for The Girls is a bitter-sweet mixture of joy and sorrow which perfectly narrates an inspiring story. It adds extra dimension and heart to a much-loved and well-known tale to present it in its ripest and most perfect form yet. The songs give audiences a glimpse into the minds of the women we encounter and in doing so paint a vivid and emotional picture of the lives we follow. The anthem ‘Yorkshire’ opens the show with a bang, setting the scene whilst creating a sense of belonging even for the Lancashire soul within me. ‘Scarborough’ is enough to chip away at even the stoniest of hearts and ‘Dare’ almost made me want to get up on that stage and strip off alongside them.
The cast are of course sublime. Joanna Riding as Annie displays extraordinary power and emotion. She is so incredibly believable in this role – a role vital in making this production as powerfully hard-hitting as it is. The rest of the girls demonstrate pure unflinching talent; Debbie Chazen, Sophie-Louise Dann, Michelle Dotrice, Claire Machin, Claire Moore and Jenny Gayner make this musical one to remember. I was also blown-away by the talent of the the younger actors on stage; Ben Hunter, Chloe May Jackson and Frazer Hadfield. James Gaddas is the perfect fit for John and Joe Caffrey is phenomenal as Rod.
I’m well aware that I’ve pretty much listed the entire cast here but I’m being completely honest when I say they all truly impressed me. I’m flicking through the programme and I could easily name every single member of this remarkable cast as a stand-out performer. One thing I absolutely love to see in a show is a cast genuinely enjoying themselves, and this cast look like they’re having the time of their lives on that stage. Its contagious.
Act 1 was thoroughly enjoyable although completely heartbreaking at times. It had me crying – which if you’ve read my reviews in the past you’ll probably know is a mean feat and it didn’t just have me crying once, it had me crying a solid 4 or 5 times. But it was also absolutely hysterical. Act 2 was when the show really won me over and in the final scenes where the calendar is finally shot and The Girls bare all I don’t think I stopped laughing for a full 10 minutes. Of course it wasn’t long till I was reduced to tears again in the final song where my heart was filled with so much joy it could burst. I felt so much genuine pride for what these women managed to achieve, it was such a wonderful thing and having seen the journey they went on to get there it really touches your heart. By this point I had fallen in love with this show. I thought it was bloody brilliant and if I could have bought a ticket and seen it again that evening, I’d have been there in a heartbeat.
I highly recommend this hysterical, heartbreaking and inspiring musical. The whole production is done so well, it is perfectly thought through and beautifully performed. A Great British triumph!
If you can, get to the Phoenix Theatre in London and see this incredibly talented cast before it closes in July. But if you can’t, theres a glimmer of good news. A 2 year UK Tour will follow its closure, so if you can’t get down to London – see it when it heads your way. I know I’ll be there.
If you want more information head over to Calendar Girls the Musical Website.
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