Showing posts sorted by relevance for query Calendar Girls the Musical. Sort by date Show all posts
Showing posts sorted by relevance for query Calendar Girls the Musical. Sort by date Show all posts

Wednesday, 2 October 2019

Calendar Girls the Musical (UK Tour), New Wimbledon Theatre | Review

Calendar Girls (UK Tour)
New Wimbledon Theatre
Reviewed on Tuesday 1st October 2019 by Olivia Mitchell
In 1998, a group of ladies in Yorkshire rallied together to help one of their members when her beloved husband died. They decided to raise money in his memory for the Lukaemia Research fund, by posing naked for a calendar and selling copies. Calendar Girls tells their story of unity as it exudes warmth and joy.
Tim Firth and Gary Barlow spent five years collaborating to create this musical and it has been seen across the UK in a variety of forms. Thanks to their brilliantly witty and heartfelt lyrics and music, the show retains it's heart wherever it goes and will surely continues to bring a smile to faces around the world. What's wonderful about this musical is how it focusses on a number of human emotions and relationships and does so with sensitivity, pathos and simplicity. We are really forced to think about what it means to pushed outside our comfort zones and it's marvellous to see a group of older women completely letting go and having the best time on stage. I can only hope to be as confident as these ladies when I grow up!
In terms of both acting and singing, it took a little while for the performances to really bloom (excuse the pun) as they seemed somewhat reserved and quiet in the opening number. However, once they got into the swing of things, the whole cast gave brilliantly strong, well-rounded and clever performances.
Sarah Jane Buckley brings the silent struggle of grief to light with immense sensitivity and provides some vocal stand out moments, especially during act two.  Rebecca Storm as Chris is the embodiment of fizz as she floats around the stage with an energy which can't help but lift spirits. All the ladies of the cast have a fantastic chemistry but these two in particular really do seem as though they've grown up together and seen the highs and lows of life. Judy Holt is great as the traditional leader of the WI, Marie; Julia Hills is hilarious as the tragically overly helpful Ruth; whilst, Sue Devaney delivers some hilarious one liners and vocal gems as Cora. Ruth Madoc really embodies the role of an ex-teacher as she gets the other girls in line with her stern Welsh remarks and Lisa Maxwell is excellent as the brash ex-air hostess trying to fit in with her new found community.
The set design by Robert Jones is basic but completely works for the production. Minimal scene changes are kept entertaining through small tweaks including a sunset in the background and a seasonally decorated piano. The audience are really transported to the Yorkshire dales, village green, hospital and hall and feel as though we've stepped from London to the countryside.
This is a totally British feel-good show which warms the heart, uplifts and entertains. Calendar Girls has something for everyone and is a beautiful portrayal of women supporting women.
Calendar Girls runs at the New Wimbledon Theatre until 5th October before continuing it's tour
photo credit:

Wednesday, 27 March 2019

Calendar Girls (UK Tour), New Victoria Theatre | Review

Calendar Girls (UK Tour)
New Victoria Theatre 
Reviewed on Tuesday 26th March 2019 by Melanie Mitchell 

Calendar Girls the Musical is based on the true story of a close-knit Yorkshire village. In 1998, Ladies of the local Women's Institute, rally to help one of their members when her beloved husband suddenly dies. They decide to raise money in his memory for the Leukaemia Research Fund by posing naked in a Pirelli style calendar and selling copies.

The story was subsequently made into a film in 2003 and then a stage play in 2008, both written by Tim Firth. Tim spent 5 years in collaboration with Gary Barlow to produce this brilliant musical. The story has been changed quite a lot from the original, but the basic premise remains the same. The musical looks at the whole gamut of human relationships and emotions with fantastic humour, pathos and poignancy, accompanied by an excellent musical score.

The characters are perfectly cast with amazingly strong performances by all. Anna-Jane Casey who plays Annie and Rebecca Storm as Chris are outstanding, both having superb voices. Fern Britten is fabulous as Marie the leader of the WI, desperate to stick to the old traditional values whilst being a terrible snob and social climber. Denise Welch is perfect as Celia, the brash, brassy and blousy ex air hostess trying to button up to fit in with the community. The show contains some of the funniest laugh out loud one liners I have ever heard, many delivered with perfect comedic timing by Karen Dunbar as Cora. Sara Crowe is hilarious as the ever helpful, slightly tragic Ruth. The younger actors, Isabel Caswell, Tyler Dobbs and Danny Howker add another dimension, which brings freshness and fun to the production.

Robert Jones' set and costume design are both fairly simple but completely in keeping with the themes and characters. In the first scene you are totally transported to the Yorkshire dales and subsequently to the village hall and green.

This is a heart-warming, totally British feel-good show, uplifting (in more ways than one), and something that almost everybody can relate to in some way or another.

For a really positive feel good evening at the theatre, suitable for all ages, I urge everyone to go and see this wonderful production.

Calendar Girls runs at the New Victoria Theatre until 29th march 2019

Thursday, 2 February 2023

Full Tour Cast of Annie Revealed with Craig Revel Horwood, Paul O'Grady and Jodie Prenger and More

Michael Harrison and David Ian are delighted to announce full casting for the forthcoming UK and Ireland tour of their smash hit production of the musical ANNIE opening at Curve, Leicester on Saturday 25 February 2023. Joining the previously announced Craig Revel Horwood and Paul O’Grady, will be Scottish BAFTA winner Elaine C Smith and Jodie Prenger, all starring as ‘Miss Hannigan’ at various venues. Alongside them will be Alex Bourne as Oliver Warbucks, Paul French as Rooster, Amelia Adams as Grace Farrell, and Billie-Kay as Lily St. Regis. The title role of Annie is shared by Zoe Akinyosade, Harlie Barthram and Poppy Cunningham. They are joined by three teams of young performers who play the residents of Miss Hannigan’s orphanage.
Completing the cast will be Emily Barnett-Salter, Alistair Beattie, David BurrowsSergi Ibanez, Rosalind James, Belle Kizzy Green, Ellie May-Wilson, Martin McCarthy, Phoebe Roberts, Lukin Simmonds, Matthew Sweet, Dawn Williams, and Tommy Wade-Smith.
*Full tour dates, including details of at which venues Craig Revel Horwood, Paul O’Grady, Elaine C Smith and Jodie Prenger star, are in the listings below.
Craig Revel Horwood is probably best known as a judge on all 20 series of BBC1’s Strictly Come Dancing. He returns to the part of Miss Hannigan having played the role to critical acclaim in this production in both the West End and on tour. His other West End Theatre credits include Munkustrap in Cats, Miss Saigon at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane and Harry in Crazy for You at the Prince Edward Theatre. Craig directed and choreographed Strictly Ballroom the Musical which is currently touring the UK and Ireland, and the 2016/17 tour of Sister Act the Musical, as well as the Strictly Come Dancing Live tour. He also choreographed the film Paddington 2.
BAFTA Award winning television, radio and stage star Paul O’Grady returns to Annie having first played the role of Miss Hannigan at the Victoria Palace Theatre in 1998. His other theatre credits include playing the Child Catcher in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang at the London Palladium and many pantomimes including Cinderella and Goldilocks and the Three Bears at the London Palladium. On television he is best known as the host of ITV’s Paul O’Grady: For the Love of Dogs, Paul O’Grady’s Great British Escape, The Paul O’Grady Show, Channel 4’s Blind Date and BBC One’s Blankety Blank. He is also a highly celebrated writer, having written both autobiographical and fictional books and recently completed a 14 year run as a presenter on BBC Radio 2.
Elaine C Smith is perhaps best known for playing Mary Doll in the BBC comedy Rab C Nesbitt, as well as her role as Christine in the BBC sitcom Two Doors Down, for which she won a Scottish BAFTA for Best Actress in 2018. On stage she consistently headlines major pantomimes, having just finished her 13th year at Glasgow King’s Theatre. She played Cora in the original UK Tour and West End run of Calendar Girls as well as playing Susan Boyle in the UK tour of I Dreamed A Dream which she co-write with Alan McHugh.
Jodie Prenger recently joined ITV’s Coronation Street as Glenda Shuttleworth. Her West End credits include A Taste of Honey at the Trafalgar Studios. Oliver! at Theatre Royal Drury Lane, One Man Two Guvnors at Theatre Royal Haymarket and Spamalot at the Playhouse Theatre. On tour she has appeared in Abigail’s Party, Shirley Valentine, Annie, Fat Friends, Tell Me on A Sunday and Calamity Jane. On television she has appeared in the BBC’s Shakespeare & Hathaway, Years and Years, Casualty and Waterloo Road.
Alex Bourne returns to Annie as Oliver Warbucks, having played the role both in the West End, Toronto and the UK Tour. His other theatre credits include Edna Turnblad in the UK Tour of Hairspray, Sam Carmichael in the UK Tour of Mamma Mia!, Khashoggi in We Will Rock You at the Dominion Theatre, Billy Flynn in Chicago at the Adelphi Theatre and Lex Hogan in Eugenius! at The Other Palace. On film he can be seen in Sony Pictures’ Cinderella.
Paul French was most recently seen as TinMan/Hickory in The Wizard of Oz at Curve, Leicester. His other theatre credits include Kenickie in Grease at the Dominion Theatre and in the production’s UK Tour and Double J in Saturday Night Fever at the Peacock Theatre. On film he can be seen in Visualize Films’ Tomorrow Morning.
Amelia Adams has most recently been seen in the UK Tour of Friends! The Musical Parody. Her previous theatre credits include Lois Lane/Bianca in Kiss Me, Kate for Welsh National Opera, Mary Delgado in Jersey Boys at the Piccadilly Theatre and on tour, Martha Burelli in The Rat Pack at the Haymarket Theatre and on tour. She has also appeared in the UK Tour of Hairspray and Spamalot both in the West End and on tour.
Billie-Kay recently appeared as Angel in Anything Goes at the Barbican and its UK and Ireland tour. She has also appeared as Dale Tremont in Top Hat at The Mill at Sonning and in 42nd Street at Theatre Royal Drury Lane. On film she has appeared in Disney’s Dis-Enchanted and Beauty and the Beast, and Sony Pictures’ Cinderella.
Set in 1930s New York during The Great Depression, brave young Annie is forced to live a life of misery and torment at Miss Hannigan’s orphanage. Determined to find her real parents, her luck changes when she is chosen to spend Christmas at the residence of famous billionaire, Oliver Warbucks. Spiteful Miss Hannigan has other ideas and hatches a plan to spoil Annie’s search…
With its award-winning book and score, this stunning production includes the unforgettable songs ‘It’s the Hard Knock Life’, ‘Easy Street’, ‘I Don’t Need Anything But You’ and ‘Tomorrow’.
ANNIE has Music by Charles Strouse, Lyrics by Martin Charnin and a Book by Thomas Meehan. It is directed by Curve’s Artistic Director Nikolai Foster with set and costume design by Colin Richmond, choreography by Nick Winston, lighting by Ben Cracknell and sound design by Richard Brooker.
The producers of Annie cannot guarantee the appearance of any particular artist, which is always subject to illness and holidays.

photo credit: Matt Crockett

Friday, 7 July 2023

Matthew Kelly and Denise Welch to star in world premiere of The Gap at Hope Mill Theatre

Hope Mill Theatre is thrilled to announce the world premiere of a captivating new play, titled The Gap, written by Jim Cartwright and featuring the talented duo of Matthew Kelly and Denise Welch. Directed by Anthony Banks, this highly anticipated production will grace the stage of Hope Mill Theatre from February 9th to March 9th, 2024, for a limited engagement. Mark your calendars as tickets go on sale starting July 8th.

The Gap delves into the audacious adventures of Walter and Corral, two individuals who haven't crossed paths in half a century. Once inseparable during the vibrant '60s in Soho, Walter finds himself up north while Corral remains down south. However, a chance phone call reunites them for one magical night, and before they know it, they're immersed in their old tricks once more.

Matthew Kelly, renowned for his exceptional performances on both stage and screen, graces us with his presence in this production. With an illustrious career that includes memorable roles such as the original Stanley in Funny Peculiar, Waiting For Godot alongside Ian McKellen and Roger Rees, and a captivating portrayal of Lennie in Of Mice and Men, for which he earned an Olivier Award for Best Actor, Matthew Kelly's talent shines brightly. His recent theatre credits include Noises Off, The Habit Of Art, and The Dresser, among others, showcasing his remarkable versatility. Not only a master of the stage, Matthew has also made his mark on the screen, with notable appearances in various TV shows and presenting credits on beloved programs such as You Bet! and Stars in their Eyes.

Joining Kelly is the esteemed actress Denise Welch, whose upcoming engagement in Diana: The Musical at The Eventim Apollo has already garnered significant attention. Denise's theatrical repertoire boasts impressive performances in productions like Calendar Girls the Musical, The Rise and Fall of Little Voice, and Steel Magnolias, to name a few. Her television career includes series regular roles in shows like Coronation Street, Waterloo Road, and Hollyoaks, solidifying her presence in the industry. As a regular panellist on ITV's Loose Women since 2001, Denise continues to captivate audiences with her engaging presence and insightful commentary.

Playwright Jim Cartwright and director Anthony Banks express their excitement about collaborating once again after their successful ventures with Mobile Phone Show in 2013 and Raz in 2016. They eagerly anticipate witnessing the extraordinary lives of Walter and Corral come to life through the exceptional talents of Denise Welch and Matthew Kelly, spanning five decades of change.

Matthew Kelly, filled with anticipation and enthusiasm, exclaims, "Dear Manchester, I'm coming home, and what better reason to return than with actress Denise Welch and playwright Jim Cartwright. We will star in the world premiere of Jim's remarkable new play, THE GAP, at Manchester's prestigious venue, Hope Mill Theatre. This funny, moving, and exquisitely crafted play will showcase the superb talents of Denise Welch, and I will be right by her side, shining throughout. Directed by Anthony Banks, this top-tier team embarks on an exceptional project at an extraordinary venue. I couldn't be more thrilled and excited. I invite you all to join us and be a part of this unforgettable experience. Sincerely, Matthew Kelly off the Telly."

Denise Welch expresses her elation, stating, "I am incredibly excited to return to my first love, theatre, and collaborate with the fantastic team at Hope Mill Theatre next year. Working opposite Matthew Kelly in a new play by Jim Cartwright is truly a dream come true. I hope each and every one of you will come and witness what promises to be an outstanding production."

The Gap is produced by Hope Mill Theatre

photo credit:

Friday, 24 February 2017

The Girls, Phoenix Theatre | Review

The Girls
Phoenix Theatre
Reviewed on Wednesday 22nd February 2017 by Olivia Mitchell

I'm going to start off by saying that this musical has flaws but they can be easily overlooked to enjoy this beautifully sweet and touching musical.

The story of The Girls was previously on the West End as a play but this new revival with music by Gary Barlow and Tim Firth, has brought new life to it and really given it star treatment. The score is sweet and full of storytelling, although some parts are a little over the top and very "la la la, I'm going to sing a very literal song about my life now" they all work together to produce a lovely piece of theatre. You are sure to leave feeling inspired, joyous and full of laughter.

This show sums up Britishness. There are fetes, tea drinking, fish and chips and of course the typified version of green Yorkshire. The set is cleverly designed by Robert Jones with a mountain of kitchen cupboards creating the vast hills of England's countryside.

Personally I found the first half of the show dragged just a little as I was waiting for the calendar plan to appear which doesn't in fact happen until act two but the initial setting up of the storyline and many relationships is gracefully and tastefully done. Act two is full of laughs and moves at a much quicker pace with us finally seeing the iconic calendar shoot which is done hilariously!

This story is friendship is truly beautiful and is something that is universally relatable. The cast are all equally talented and their performances are refreshing and genuine throughout. The relationship between Annie (Joanna Riding) and Chris (Claire Moore) is especially touching and makes you value and appreciate your friends even more. The whole cast have wonderful chemistry with one another and really seem to enjoy their time performing.

The whole production is filled with light and positivity as well as showing the trials and hardships of life. In a time when it can often seem like women are always bringing each other down, it's lovely to see a show which restores your faith in friendship and sees such a strong group of women holding each other up and working together to create something beautiful. This is a lovely, reflective, heart-warming production which reminds us that there's always light even when we feel as though we're surrounded by darkness.

The Girls is currently playing at the Phoenix Theatre until July 15th 2017

Photo credit: Matt Crockett

Wednesday, 25 May 2022

Gary Barlow Going Back to His Roots with A Different Stage

Frodsham local, lauded singer, songwriter, composer and producer Gary Barlow, is heading back to his hometown for four very special performances of his critically acclaimed theatrical one man stage show. He’ll perform A Different Stage at the Frodsham Community Centre over 2, 3 and 4 June. Those with a credit card registered to a WA6 postcode* will be able to purchase tickets on Thursday 26 May, with general sale tickets available from Friday 27 May.


In A Different Stage, Gary takes audiences on a journey through his life story, which began in Frodsham back in 1971. A Different Stage premiered at The Brindley, the award-winning theatre in Runcorn, Cheshire, in February to a rapturous reception and Gary has since played to sell-out audiences in Salford, Liverpool and Edinburgh. He’ll also take the show to Dublin, Newcastle, York and more, plus he’ll make his West End debut at London’s Duke of York’s Theatre in August.


A Different Stage performance dates announced today:

Frodsham Community Centre - Thursday 2 June

Frodsham Community Centre - Friday 3 June

Frodsham Community Centre - Saturday 4 June (matinee)

Frodsham Community Centre - Saturday 4 June (evening)


Gary said: “It’s been thrilling to perform ‘A Different Stage’ in so many wonderful places over the past few months, but to be able to bring this show to Frodsham feels incredibly special to me. I can’t wait!”


Created by Gary and his long-time friend and collaborator Tim Firth, A Different Stage sees Gary narrate the journey of his life alongside the music from his incredible discography. In a project unlike anything he’s ever done before, Gary will take the audience behind the curtain, with nothing off limits in this special performance.


Gary Barlow is one of Britain’s most successful songwriters and record producers. As part of the group Take That, he has won eight BRIT Awards and sold over 45 million records. Aside from his achievements with Take That, he has also co-written and produced music for other renowned artists including Dame Shirley Bassey, Sir Elton John and Robbie Williams.


In more recent years, Gary has also turned his attention to the world of theatre, composing the score for the hugely successful production of Finding Neverland; working alongside Tim Firth on  Calendar Girls The Musical; and collaborating with Tim and his Take That bandmates on The Band, a record-breaking stage musical currently being adapted into a feature film.