Tuesday, April 23

Calendar Girls – Winter Gardens, Blackpool

Based on the 2003 film by the same name Bill Kenwright Ltd brings us Calendar Girls – The Musical, Written by Gary Barlow and Tim Firth. An evening of nostalgic British humour with a true story centred around a real group of Yorkshire ladies creating a controversial calendar with their WI group to raise money for cancer research.

Director Jonathan O’Boyle brings us a star-studded cast and a witty interpretation of the tale, cleverly scripted and warm, natural believable characters.

Even if like me you have already seen the show before, this is not the same musical score or script, it has gone under some changes for this tour and in parts is unrecognisable.

The set remains the same for the entire show, with a few additions to change it from the Women’s institute hall to the hospital and various other places. The costumes are an element of the production that aids in normalising the characters, very minimalistic.

I felt unable after watching the show to tell you who was who In the main line up of ladies, there’s so many characters and in parts not enough time to learn about them in full.

In the leading role Annie, Laurie Brett (EastEnders) Helen Pearson (Hollyoaks) as Celia, Honeysuckle Weeks (Foyle’s war) as Core and Liz Carney as Marie.

Photo: Jack Merriman

Vocally the show was very hit and miss, some of it was lovely to hear and had fantastic harmony lines, whilst other parts fell slightly flat and lacked energy.

Some musical highlight being ‘Yorkshire’, ‘Scarborough’ and ‘Dare.’

The acting couldn’t be faulted and for me the standout performance of the night was Samantha Seager as Chris, great comedy timing and a fabulous voice.

I also thought Maureen Nolan (Nolan Sisters) was great in the role of Ruth but didn’t have very much to do. The role of Jessie at this performance was being played by Jayne Ashley, stepping in to cover.

There’s little to no choreography, and no standard musical theatre ensemble pieces, some of the songs are a little static and quite a lot of ballads for one show.

This evening was only a cast of 12 performers, most of which remain on the stage throughout.

I thought it was a nice touch, the Stage crew being dressed as hospital staff to change the set.

The show began at 7:30 and finished just before 10 pm with a short interval.

There’s no denying that this is a heartwarming tale, a talented, cast and creative team.

What’s truly remarkable about this show is that every ticket sold raises money for Blood Cancer UK. So, it’s never been more important to book your tickets.

Performances run through till Saturday 27th January. https://www.wintergardensblackpool.co.uk/events/calendar-girls/

Reviewer: Rebecca Casey

Reviewed: 23rd January 2024

North West End UK Rating:

Rating: 3 out of 5.