The Calendar Girls musical was a huge success as it receives rapturous applause at the opening night in Stoke at the Regent Theatre
As theatre seasons go, the Regent is having quite a moment. It has welcomed some great musical tours to its stage of late and there are plenty more to come over the festive season and into 2019. Dirty Dancing, Blood Brothers and the brand new show Benidorm Live have all gone down a storm in recent weeks with The Full Monty, Kinky Boots and Robin Hood all next on the schedule.
But last night it was Calendar Girls that had Stoke’s theatre goers cheering with delight and up on their feet. And I have to say it has been a long time since a performance had me so gripped – I was crying, laughing and cheering all at the same time. It was thoroughly spectacular from start to finish.
The product of a superior collaboration by Gary Barlow and Tim Firth was always going to be special and when you add in producer-duo David Pugh and Dafydd Rogers then the result is magnificent.
You will know the story that both the 2003 film starring Julie Walters and Helen Mirren and the musical are based on. A group of ‘ordinary’ Yorkshire ladies, members of the local WI, went on to shock the county and the world after they created a nude calendar.
It all came about after the husband of one of the ladies, Annie, dies from cancer and her best friend Chris Harper sets about raising money to fund a new sofa for the uncomfortable relative’s room at the hospital where he was treated. Her idea is to create a calendar that looks just like a traditional WI calendar but on closer inspection all the ladies in the pictures are tastefully in the nude!
A star-studded cast, Fern Britton, Lorraine Bruce, Anna-Jane Casey, Sara Crowe, Ruth Madoc, Rebecca Storm and Denise Welch, work wonders at bringing the story to life on stage with moments of comedy genius, complete sadness and total elation. You could see how proud they were to bare all and they do… tastefully of course. And they look fantastic doing it.
A simple set design brings your focus firmly back to the cast and the music, there were moments where you could hear a pin drop as the audience, completely captivated, waited for what was coming next.
Gary Barlow’s signature style was definitely present in the musical score, which included a solo for each of the main cast members.
A special mention has to be made for Sara Crowe, who played the ever so nice Ruth so well and Karan Dunbar who’s portrayal of Cora was hilariously fabulous. And Anna-Jane Casey, playing Annie Clarke, whose sadness during her performance was felt by every single person in the audience for sure. And to Danny Howker who added some great comedy value to the show as Chris’ son, Danny.
Sheer brilliance, loved every moment of it. You will be sorry to miss out on this one.
Calendar Girls the Musical will be at The Regent, Stoke-on-Trent from Tuesday 13th November until Saturday 17th November. Tickets are available from The Regent Theatre Box Office, or by calling 0844 871 7649.