They take over from the current company on 3 November 2009 and will play for ten weeks only until 9 January 2010 at the Noel Coward Theatre, after which the production will make way for the transfer of Enron and move to a still-to-be-announced new home (See News, 12 Sep 2009).
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, Jill Baker plays Annie (Walters on screen, Patricia Hodge in the original stage cast) who, after losing her husband to leukaemia, teams up with her close friend and fellow WI member Chris, now played by Anita Dobson (Mirren on screen, Lynda Bellingham first on stage) to raise money for the local hospital by producing a calendar. The current cast also features Jerry Hall, Jill Halfpenny, Gemma Atkinson, Sara Crowe and June Brown as the fellow calendar girls of the title, and Richenda Carey as non-stripping WI president Marie.
From the new company, Julie Goodyear (who plays Cora, “Miss July”) is a household name having starred for 25 years as Bet Lynch in Coronation Street, the TV soap for which Rob James Collier (calendar photographer Lawrence). Kelly Brook (Celia, “Miss September”), who made her West End debut last year in Neil LaBute’s Fat Pig, for which she was Whatsonstage.com Award nominated, takes over from fellow model Jerry Hall.
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.