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. Also in the cast are Joan Blackham, Abby Francis, Gary Lilburn, Gerard McDermot and Carl Prekopp.
Calendar Girls, first seen at the Chichester Festival Theatre from 5 to 27 September, is in Edinburgh this week and continues on tour to Salford, High Wycombe, Canterbury, Cambridge, Bath, Richmond, Malvern and Plymouth, where the 2008 leg concludes on 13 December. In the new year, it will continues its tour on 3 February at Aberdeen and will then visit Nottingham, Stoke, Woking, Southampton, Cardiff, Salford and Norwich ahead of the London transfer.
The production is presented on tour and in the West End by David Pugh and Dafydd Rogers, who have arranged for the £1.50 booking fee charged on London tickets to be donated directed to Leukemia 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.
- by Terri Paddock