I watched the film Calendar Girls when it came out sixteen years ago and I really enjoyed it so, when the chance came up to review the musical at The Pavilion in Bournemouth, I was happy to go along with my aunt. Both being mums, it was nice to get out of the house and enjoy a show together with a glass or two of Prosecco before the performance, as well as the yummy cupcakes provided by BH Live tickets.
The musical, which tells the true story of a group of women from Yorkshire, has been put together by Gary Barlow and Tim Firth, and it doesn’t disappoint when it comes to lively musical numbers and soulful solos. I was unsure what to expect from a musical version of the film, but I was pleased to find that the songs fitted the action on the stage perfectly, and the repetitive use of some of these songs helped create a sense of familiarity that the community provided in the story.
The cast includes the lovely Lisa Maxwell from Loose Women, who was resplendent in her role as an air hostess turned trophy wife who is proud of her, slightly revamped, body as well as Sarah Jane Buckley taking the lead with the role of Angela, a woman who is determined to leave a legacy for her beloved husband.
From the start you know that the women on the stage are going to end up without their clothes on, but the journey they take you on to get to that point is a rollercoaster of emotions. There are some poignant scenes, followed by lots of comic moments, to relieve the pressure. The whole audience were laughing along in places as the women posed for the infamous WI nude calendar.
I found the set effective, whilst keeping fairly simple, with lighting to help create the feel of being outside in nature and inside a church hall, and the cast all worked well to change scenes seamlessly. The singing was fantastic, although I did have an issue understanding some of the lines in the songs, as has happened during previous performances. I am starting to think it may have something to do with acoustics in the theatre rather than the way the cast are performing.
I found the ending incredibly moving, and liked the fact that the whole cast came out to take a bow and sing one last chorus before the curtain went down. It was a brilliant performance, and a group effort to create, so it seemed fitting to have everybody together to finish.
Calendar Girls is on at Bournemouth Pavilion until Saturday 21st September, and you can buy tickets online now.
I was gifted tickets for the purpose of this review, however all words are my own. Some images kindly provided by BH Live.