Tickets remain off-sale to the public for the 20 April evening performance, which will be held at the normal, earlier press night time of 7pm (rather than 7.30pm), and box office staff at the theatre are themselves referring to this as the press night. But no critics will be allowed in on that night, which has now been designated a gala night, with proceeds going to Leukaemia Research. (The charity has a lot to thank producers David Pugh and Daffyd Rogers for – they’ve also arranged a £1.50 donation on every ticket sold throughout the run.)
Whatever the reasons for the change to the press night norm, Calendar Girls seems to be a proper critic-proof hit. Despite some lukewarm reviews when it first opened in Chichester last September, the screen-to-stage adaptation enjoyed the fastest-selling tour in UK history prior to London and, according to Variety, is already playing to 94% capacity at the Noel Coward Theatre, where it’s taken an incredible £1.7 million in advance sales – before any London notices were printed.
Critics are being filtered through ad hoc from this week so check back for Michael Coveney’s West End verdict on the show and our usual Review Round-up in due course. Rumours have already started circulating about future starry replacement casts and myriad international productions are in the works. One way or another, Calendar Girls looks like it’s here to stay for some time.