THE story of the Calendar Girls is as popular and cherished as plum jam.
This true and heartwarming tale focuses on six members of the Women’s Institute in the heart of the Yorkshire Dales.
After a member’s husband dies tragically of cancer, they go on to raise both eyebrows and funds through creating a naked calendar.
With a star-studded cast and a story so recognised and cherished, this was always going to be a winning formula.
Stand out performances include Lesley Joseph and Sue Holderness as best friends (and principal characters) Chris and Annie, Kathryn Rooney as Celia and Kacey Ainsworth (formerly of Eastenders) as quirky Ruth.
It was difficult to quite believe Ruth Madoc’s aristocratic English accent however. But maybe that’s just because I have her dulcet Welsh tones from Hi De Hi still ringing in my ears!
The temptation would be to play this show for the laughs but it is so much more than that and director Jack Ryder is more than sensitive to the storyline that inspired its conception.
It is unavoidable to be moved by this heartwarming story and easy to see why it continues to be such a stage success.
The satirical and self-depreciating humour epitomises the attitude and dedication of these incredible women and, in turn, humbles its audience.
Tim Firth’s script has been beautifully executed and the balance between comedy and reality is both seamless and poignant.
And behind the footlights it’s heartening to remember the millions of pounds which the Calendar Girls franchise has raised.
Review by Amanda Chalmers
Calendar Girls plays at the Belgrade Theatre until Saturday. For tickets, call the box office on 024 7655 3055.