Tour dates have now been confirmed for the stage version the award-winning Miramax film Calendar Girls, which receives its world premiere at Chichester Festival Theatre next month (See News, 21 Feb 2008), and the release of the first show photo – featuring a naked Lynda Bellingham, Patricia Hodge and Sian Phillips (right) – has got the national press excited about the subsequent planned West End transfer.

Tim Firth’s adaptation of Calendar Girls 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.

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, played by Lynda Bellingham (Mirren on screen) to raise money for the local hospital by producing a calendar. They’re 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.



Left-right: Calendar Girls’ Gaynor Faye, Patricia Hodge, Sian Phillips,
Lynda Bellingham, Elaine C Smith and Julia Hills.

Calendar Girls runs at the Chichester Festival Theatre from 16 to 27 September 2008 (previews from 5 September). It will then visit Glasgow, Bradford, Edinburgh, Manchester, High Wycombe, Canterbury, Cambridge, Bath, Richmond, Malvern and Plymouth, where the tour schedule concludes on 13 December 2008.

The tour is presented by David Pugh and Dafydd Rogers, who told Whatsonstage.com that, if well received in Chichester, Calendar Girls will transfer to the West End just before or just after Christmas. “We’d love it to come in and the ladies would love it to come in too,” said Rogers. The premiere production is directed by The Right Size’s Hamish McColl and designed by Rob Jones, with costumes by Emma Williams and lighting by Malcolm Rippeth.

- by Terri Paddock