Tim Firth’s adaptation of the award-winning Miramax film Calendar Girls, for which he also wrote the screenplay, 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, Penelope Wilton and Celia Imrie starred in the 2003 screen original, also written by Firth.
Currently on stage, Patricia Hodge plays Annie (Walters on screen) who, after losing her husband to leukaemia, teams up with her close friend and fellow WI member Chris, now played by Lynda Bellingham (Mirren on screen) to raise money for the local hospital by producing a calendar. Hodge and Bellingham are joined by Sian Phillips, Elaine C Smith, Gaynor Faye and Julia Hills as the fellow calendar girls of the title, and by Brigit Forsyth as non-stripping WI president Marie.
First seen at the Chichester Festival Theatre in September 2008, Calendar Girls broke box office records on tour before transferring to the West End, opening on 4 April 2009 at the Noel Coward Theatre. It’s produced by David Pugh and Dafydd Rogers, who have arranged for the £1.50 booking fee charged on London tickets to be donated directed to Leukaemia Research. Calendar Girls is directed by The Right Size’s Hamish McColl and designed by Robert Jones, with costumes by Emma Williams, lighting by Malcolm Rippeth and music by Steve Parry.