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posted/updated: 03 Oct 2011 -
Calendar Girls
Tim Firth and Juliette Towhidi
society/company: Stoneface Productions
performance date: 01 Jul 2011
venue: Congress Theatre, Eastbourne
reviewer/s: The Countess (Sardines review)


Calendar Girls was born from the true story of a group of Yorkshire W.I ladies that unrobed themselves in order to unrobe the deadly killer that is Leukaemia. Whatever one’s view of the play (and even the film), the poignancy of the story cannot fail to move you and one will always leave in awe of the £3 million pounds for charity generated since this story became a national treasure. Was it this that contributed to the advance tickets sales of more than £1.7 million when the play opened in London’s West End? Sardines went along to see what all the fuss is about…
The current cast (April – August 2011) is apparently the first to be given the full 5 stars in reviews. Having seen their interaction onstage, I can see why. That is not to say other casts were not worthy but this cast definitely works. Each character was brought to life, showcasing a whole gamut of personalities – clashing and soothing in equal measure. Not having seen the film, as each lady revealed her own story, I was swept along with the story. The ladies cast in this play are always household names – mainly television and soap stars, with a few models along the way, and now a champion dancer too. I think this probably ensures ticket sales are healthy but I was pleased to see we were not let down. Often stars can rely on their ‘name’ rather than talent but this is not the case here.

The friendship between Chris (Lesley Joseph, Birds of a Feather) and Annie (Sue Holderness, Only Fools and Horses) is the main focus around which the play revolves really. I will not ruin it for those of you that have not seen it yet (as you should catch it when the tour arrives near you…), suffice to say that the ups and downs these two share with us are memorable and thought provoking; skilfully acted out by these perennial favourites.

In fact, as mentioned, all the cast works well. The cast members all understudy each other. Something that must be hard to undertake taking into account the vast differences in personalities and body shapes! Having only seen most these people on television up until now, it was interesting to see their stage acting - actors will always tell you stage and screen are miles apart. Camilla Dallerup made a delightful and very funny stage debut as Elaine the beautician - a performance full of energy and humour. Kevin Sacre’s bashful (but lucky) photographer, Lawrence, contrasted perfectly with his Act Two appearance as insensitive TV-ad director, Liam. I was also glad to eventually see a different side to Kacey Ainsworth’s Ruth by the end…

Overall Calendar Girls is an enormous slice of feel good theatre (cake). Whilst being entertained, you can sit satisfied in the knowledge that the Leukaemia Research Fund is being bolstered that little bit more. And what a well deserved slice it is.

Look out for more fascinating Calendar Girls reading inside our next issue featuring an interview with Kevin & Camilla Sacre-Dallerup

Catch the UK tour at the following venues:

Lyceum Theatre
Tudor Square SHEFFIELD | 0114 249 6000
www.sheffieldtheatres.co.uk/ Monday 11 - Saturday 23 July

Pavilion Theatre
Westover Road BOURNEMOUTH | 0844 576 3000
www.bic.co.uk Monday 25 July - Saturday 6 August

King's Theatre
297 Bath Street GLASGOW | 0844 871 7648
www.ambassadortickets.com/glasgow Tuesday 30 August - Saturday 3 September

Venue Cymru
The Promenade LLANDUDNO | 01492 872000
www.venuecymru.co.uk Monday 5 - Saturday 10 September

Sunderland Empire
High Street West SUNDERLAND | 0844 871 3022
www.sunderlandempire.org.uk Monday 12 - Saturday 17 September

Futurist Theatre
Foreshore Road SCARBOROUGH | 01723 374500
www.futuristtheatre.co.uk Monday 19 - Saturday 24 September

Opera House
Winter Gardens, Church Street BLACKPOOL | 0844 856 1111
www.blackpoollive.com Monday 26 September - Saturday 1 October

Grand Opera House
Great Victoria Street BELFAST | 028 9024 1919
www.goh.co.uk Monday 3 - Saturday 8 October

Churchill Theatre Bromley
High Street BROMLEY | 0844 871 7620
www.ambassadortickets.com/bromley Monday 10 - Saturday 15 October

Alhambra Theatre
Morley Street BRADFORD | 01274 432000
www.bradford-theatres.co.uk Monday 17 - Saturday 22 October

Grand Theatre
Lichfield Street WOLVERHAMPTON | 01902 429212
www.grandtheatre.co.uk Monday 24 - Saturday 29 October

Royal & Derngate
Guildhall Road NORTHAMPTON | 01604 624811
www.royalandderngate.co.uk Monday 31 October - Saturday 5 November

Ipswich Regent
St Helen’s Street IPSWICH | 01473 433100
www.ipswichregent.com Monday 7 - Saturday 12 November

Waterside Theatre
Exchange Street AYLESBURY | 0844 871 7607
www.ambassadortickets.com/aylesbury Monday 14 - Saturday 19 November

Liverpool Empire Theatre
Lime Street LIVERPOOL | 0844 871 3017
www.liverpoolempire.org.uk Monday 21 - Saturday 26 November

Richmond Theatre
The Green RICHMOND | 0844 871 7651
www.ambassadortickets.com/richmond Monday 28 November - Saturday 3 December




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