Reviews for Calendar Girls will be trickling through this week and next in a slightly more haphazard fashion than for most major West End openings, due to confusion over opening night: basically, is there one or isn’t there? When the show’s transfer was announced - initially for a 12-week season from 4 April to 27 June (See News, 17 Oct 2008) - the news release did not identify a press performance. However, 20 April has been listed for some time in the First Night diary and Theatre List published by the Society of London Theatre (SOLT), which is the source used by many arts editors for planning reviews diaries.

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.

** DON’T MISS our Whatsonstage.com Outing to CALENDAR GIRLS on 29 April 2009
- inc FREE show poster & EXCLUSIVE post-show Q&A with Tim Firth -
all for £34.50!! - click here to book now!! **