The tour opens on 27 January 2010 at Chichester Festival Theatre (where the play premiered in September 2008) and continues, until 24 July, to 18 other venues with further dates to be announced. Dimmock is due to join for a 12-week stint as part of the tour’s second cast, starting on 3 May at Hull’s New Theatre.
Tim Firth’s adaptation of the 2003 Miramax film tells the real-life story of the members of a Yorkshire chapter of the Women’s Institute who decide to pose nude for a charity calendar. Helen Mirren, Julie Walters and Penelope Wilton starred in the 2003 screen original, also written by Firth.
Dimmock will take the role of busty Celia (aka Miss September), played in the film by Celia Imrie and previously portrayed on stage by Gaynor Faye, Jerry Hall and, currently in the West End, Kelly Brook. Since becoming a household name on Ground Force, Dimmock has gone on to present BBC programmes including Cheer for Charlie, Charlie and the Duchess and Garden Invaders, as well as coverage of the Chelsea Flower Show. Her books include Enjoy Your Garden and Container Gardening.
Also joining the Calendar Girls tour cast from 3 May will be: Gemma Craven and Sue Holdnerness as best friends Chris and Annie, whose husband’s death from leukaemia provides inspiration for the calendar, as well as Elizabeth Bennett, Anna Charleston, Letitia Dean, Mikyla Dodd, Hannah Waterman and Dean Gaffney.
As previously reported (See News, 16 Nov 2009), the tour opens this month Lynda Bellingham reprising her role as Chris (Mirren on screen), which she originated on stage. The first touring cast to April also features Jan Harvey, Letitia Dean, Gemma Atkinson, Hannah Waterman, and Judith Barker, as well as Kathryn Rooney and Bellingham's son Michael Peluso, who makes his stage debut as the photographer.
After first being seen in Chichester in 2008, Calendar Girls broke box office records on its first national tour and in the West End, where it opened on 4 April. The new tour has reportedly already taken over £5 million in advance ticket sales, with many venues still yet to open booking.
Following its new Chichester dates, the tour visits Salford, Birmingham, Southend, Leeds, Milton Keynes, Newcastle, Sheffield, Hull, Truro, Bristol, Belfast, Nottingham, Cheltenham, Bromley, Birmingham, Torquay, Eastbourne and Norwich. The production is directed by The Right Size’s Hamish McColl, designed by Robert Jones and produced by David Pugh and Dafydd Rogers.
Calendar Girls has been nominated for Best New Comedy in this year’s tenth annual Whatsonstage.com Awards, for which voting continues until 31 January and winners are announced on Sunday 14 February at our Awards Concert at the West End’s Prince of Wales Theatre.