When John Baker died of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, a type of cancer, in 1988, his wife Angela and friends created a nude calendar of WI members, designed to raise enough money to replace a dilapidated sofa in the hospital visitor room. Little did they know the infamous calendar would become popular around the world and raise millions for the cause.
Well, that’s the real story of the ‘Calendar Girls’, but the story was so poignant and the 2003 film version so successful that Take That star Garry Barlow and acclaimed playwright, screenwriter and songwriter Tim Firth have decided to take a step. further and create the musical.
It premiered in 2015 to rave reviews and ever since then audiences have flocked to see it. After all, very few of us have remained untouched by the C-word.
WBOS, as the group is affectionately called, has certainly given itself body and soul to present this show, with a very well chosen cast, a clear direction, a simple but effective choreography and set and lighting effects too good as the last professional tour. production.
The female performers of this talented amateur group are of course the stars. Real-life sisters Sarah Moors and Emma Wetherall sing their hearts out as Yorkshire pals Annie and Chris, and their obvious bond is evident in the roles.
Eileen Woolley is downright funny and very endearing as Jess, while Kim Greystone is the perfect “Wild Child” mom as Cora.
Glamorous Celia is played to perfection by Claire Flavell, whose number So I’ve had a Little Work Done was the musical highlight of the evening, but surely the new queen of comedy at WBOS must be Lisa Metcalfe as Ruth, who nearly stole the show with perfect characterization and comedic timing.
But men are not left out either. Greg Yates as Rod delivers the best comedic performance of the night, albeit a small part, while Tim Jones tugs at the heartstrings and has a great voice as the hapless John. And well done Tim for shaving his head for Prostate Cancer UK!
It’s important to encourage young people, and Charlie Pugh, as Tommo, and Jack Williams, as Danny, are definitely the ones to watch going forward.
The show’s score certainly has the Barlow touch, but it’s not his strongest work, as the songs are so enjoyable, but to be honest, forgettable. In contrast, the heartwarming storyline is moving and yet downright funny. Yes, there are tears of sadness, but they are completely offset by tears of laughter.
An evening of pure entertainment is guaranteed, but this musical is also a reminder that life is very fragile. With that in mind, remember that every day is the show, not the dress rehearsal, and wear your sunflowers with pride.