MusicalNorth East & YorkshireReview

Calendar Girls the Musical – Lyceum Theatre, Sheffield

Reviewer: Ray Taylor

Music and Lyrics: Gary Barlow and Tim Firth

Director: Jonathan O’Boyle

This stage musical adaptation of the famous film version starring John Alderton, Julie Walters and Helen Mirren does not disappoint its sure to be many legions of fans who so loved the film. It is heartwarming, funny, emotional and very enjoyable and makes for a very entertaining couple of hours in the theatre.

The story, based on real events, centres around a group of Yorkshire women in a small local Women’s Institute who meet regularly and go through the usual repertoire of cake and jam making, flower arranging, choir practice, and listening to an endless array of boring guest speakers. Their leader, Marie (Paula Tappenden) likes to run a tight, well-organised and straight laced ship with everyone pulling their weight. The group is an assorted bunch of straight talking Yorkshire women whose theme song might very well be the appropriately named Yorkshire which appears in various guises throughout. Each of them has a distinct personality and they form a likeable and engaging ensemble. It would be unfair to single out any of the characters because all of them give strong and assured performances, displaying comic timing, strong singing voices and heartfelt emotion. It is a joy, however, to see Marti Webb (Celia), Maureen Nolan (Ruth) and Lyn Paul (Jessie) on stage together in such iconic roles.

Tanya Franks’ character, Annie, is going through a hard time at home as her husband John (Colin R Campbell) is suffering with leukaemia and eventually dies. This has a profound effect on the whole group as John was very well liked by everyone and was the life and soul of the party. His tragic death eventually gives Chris (Amy Robbins), the livewire of the group, the idea of doing a calendar with a difference to raise enough money to honour John’s memory by buying a new couch in his name to go in the waiting room of the hospital that cared for him in his illness. And so the legend of the Calendar Girls is born.

Gary Barlow and Tim Firth have done an excellent job in bringing this well known story to the stage. The music is intimate and small scale as befits the subject matter and is nicely performed by a small band comprising keyboards, bass, guitars and drums. The set design is well thought out and effective, mainly taking place in the community hall of the WI which also transforms into the hospital waiting room at various points and also, at the end, into the WI Conference Hall.

This is a sure fire hit with those already conversant with the story through the film and is likely to win new admirers who have not yet had the pleasure of seeing it.

Runs until 23 September 2023.

The Reviews Hub Score

Hugely enjoyable

Show More
Photo of The Reviews Hub - Yorkshire & North East

The Reviews Hub - Yorkshire & North East

The Yorkshire & North East team is under the editorship of Jacob Bush. The Reviews Hub was set up in 2007. Our mission is to provide the most in-depth, nationwide arts coverage online.

Related Articles

Back to top button
The Reviews Hub