Monday, April 22

Calendar Girls The Musical – The Lowry

Sunflowers aplenty, Calendar Girls: The Musical has arrived at The Lowry in Salford Quays with an updated production that beautifully blends humour, heart, and a touch of poignant storytelling. Crafted by the talented duo Gary Barlow and Tim Firth, the musical resonates with a perfect harmony of Yorkshire wit and emotion, transferring the show from the big screen to the stage by being different.

Under the skilful direction of Jonathan O’Boyle, the cast’s chemistry shines through, drawing the audience into the world of the WI in Yorkshire. Laurie Brett as Annie delivers a stellar performance, capturing the essence of her character’s journey with sincerity and grace. Each member of the cast, including Liz Carney as Marie, Maureen Nolan as Ruth, Lyn Paul as Jessie, Helen Pearson as Celia, Samantha Seager as Christine and Honeysuckle Weeks as Cora, contributes to the magic of the musical with their brilliant on-stage chemistry, unique flair and talent.

The show’s standout feature for me is its ability to balance light-hearted humour with moments of profound emotion. The comedic timing is impeccable, thanks to the witty script and the cast’s impeccable delivery. However, it’s the genuine, heartfelt moments that truly elevate the musical, making it more than just a series of laughs. The characters’ vulnerabilities and friendships are explored with depth, allowing the audience to connect with their journey on a personal level.

Photo: Jack Merriman

The story of celebrating friendship, empowerment, and embracing life’s unexpected turns, is powerfully conveyed through both the script and the music. Gary Barlow’s musical compositions, accompanied by Tim Firth’s poignant lyrics, create a captivating soundtrack that enhances the emotional impact of the story and making it relatable; with songs about Tesco, Scarborough and a Spring Fete featuring in a song which is slick and well crafted.

Visually, the production is a treat, with set design by Gary McCann which complements the story beautifully and at first glance looks so simple but develops with lots of moving parts that help it adapt throughout the story. The costumes and choreography add a vibrant touch, I loved the routine to Hallelujah Silent Night complete with charity pots utilised as maracas, an ingenious routine!

Calendar Girls – The Musical is a beautifully British piece of theatre which captures the essence of the original story while adding a musical element which naturally fits. It’s a heartwarming celebration of life, friendship, and the courage to step outside one’s comfort zone, leaving the audience with a lasting sense of joy and inspiration.

Verdict: I laughed, I cried, I loved this musical!

Playing until 20th January,

Reviewer: Max Eden

Reviewed: 16th January 2024

North West End UK Rating:

Rating: 5 out of 5.