Review: Calendar Girls The Musical is blooming brilliant!

The Calendar GirlsThe Calendar Girls
The Calendar Girls
​It was quite fitting that a tale of grief over the loss of a loved one should open in Peterborough on the same day it was announced that Bill Kenwright, whose production this was, had passed away.

Calendar Girls the Musical, at the New Theatre until Saturday, is the much-told story of a group of Yorkshire Women’s Institute members who step out of their comfort zones to produce a fundraising nude calendar.

There are some lump-in-the-throat moments – John’s farewell scene – but overall it is very uplifting and tremendous fun. This is down to a great script and a stellar cast – Tanya Franks, Maureen Nolan, Lyn Paul, Amy Robbins, Paula Tappenden, Marti Webb and Honeysuckle Weeks.

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The on-stage chemistry is there from the opening song and each has their moment in the spotlight. Paul’s “What Age Expects” and Nolan’s “My Russian Friend And I” were very different but both quite memorable.

But there are two stand-outs.

Franks (EastEnders) is excellent as grieving widow Annie and Robbins, as the overly excitable, over-the-top Chris, is a joy to watch.

The set, lighting and music are spot on and the songs are more classic story telling musical theatre (from the pen of Gary Barlow) than musical blockbusters. Some reminded me of Blood Brothers – evocative of Mrs Johnstone – ironic given five of the ladies on stage are associated with that role in another Kenwright hit.

As for the photoshoot scenes: Tasteful and great comedy.

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