Calendar Girls, A Charming, Emotional Comedy at Venue Cymru
So last night I headed over to Venue Cymru to check out Gary Barlow & Tim Firth’s Calendar Girls The Musical. Following a six-month season at the Phoenix Theatre in London last year and before that sold-out seasons in Leeds and Manchester, the show has made it’s way to Llandudno and features Fern Britton, Anna-Jane Casey, Sara Crowe, Ruth Madoc and Denise Welch.
Now like most of us I’ve seen the 2003 film 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, so I was intrigued to see the musical that has had so many rave reviews, but was it really as good as people have been saying about the show.
Right from the moment that the curtain lifted at the theatre last night I had the feeling that this was going to be a night to remember, the stage design looks brilliant, with the rolling hills at the back of the stage and a grassed area with a central planked area that would be the central focus of the evening’s entertainment. There use of light and the subtle movements of the hills in the background along with several other lovely touches (look out for the small cottage in the hills in a few scenes) and the tree that depending on the scene appears on the right side of the stage as it is growing from a larger tree off stage, brilliantly done.
But the stage isn’t the star of Calendar Girls, that falls down to the brilliant cast that brings the show to an emotional ride, from outbursts of comedy to moments of pure emotion that brings a lonely tear rolling down your cheek in the theatre, leaving you with no option to wipe it away and take in the powerful performances that pull you into the the musical and the location.
Calendar Girls A Musical Delight
I’ve been to see several musicals that have been based on films recently including The Full Monty, Shrek the Musical and The Wedding Singer, at first, I was never sure about musicals from a film, but after seeing so many I’ve changed my mind and Calendar Girls is another outstanding musical that I have loved watching. Gary Barlow and Tim Firth have brought Calendar Girls to the stage without losing any of the delights of the film, the musical numbers are performed brilliantly by the cast and I have to say that the cast at the show at Venue Cymru last night are perfectly picked for the parts.
Fern Britton, who may not have the most stage time, is great as Marie the new chairman to the W.I. that movies into the village with her slightly rebellious daughter, Jenny (Isabel Caswell), but the time she is on the stage is performed with a passion for the boards.
It was great to see Ruth Madoc back at Venue Cymru, I last saw her in The Wedding Singer, Ruth plays Jessie who brings some delights to the stage with her performances, musical and non-musical, it’s always lovely to see Ruth’s performances and her role in Calendars Girls is no exception.
I have to say that during the evening, my favourite character was Celia, played brilliantly by Denise Welch, I found myself laughing the most at her lines and to the musical numbers that she performed.
To be honest, all the cast in Calendar Girls put on an amazing performance, as I mentioned earlier the musical is an emotional ride, but with the subject matter of losing a loved one, it’s expected and it’s all done with such a wonderful way that you feel for many of the characters and you feel for the loss.
Calendar Girls is a show that you really don’t want to miss, my advice is to get to see it while it is at Venue Cymru, you really won’t be disappointed, the first night had a full house and a standing ovation, but please bear in mind that there are some curse words and of course a bit of nudity, but it’s all done in the best possible taste as to not bring down the tone of a stunning musical.
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.
CALENDAR GIRLS The Musical is directed by Matt Ryan and designed by Robert Jones, with comedy staging by Jos Houben, movement by Lucy Hind and casting by Sarah Bird.
This fantastic production will be on stage at Venue Cymru until Saturday 27th October 2018 and tickets are on sale now from www.venuecymru.co.uk or via the Box Office on 01492 872000.
Calendar Girls, Stunning from Start to Finish
Calendar Girls is a musical that has everything you need in a show that touches the heartstrings and brings a smile to your face, with stunning performances from the cast, amazing theatre production and brilliant music, this is a show that you don’t want to miss.