The true story of the Calendar Girls launched a global phenomenon: a million copycat calendars, a record-breaking movie, the fastest-selling stage play in British theatre history, and now a musical written by Gary Barlow and Tim Firth.
Tim Firth’s involvement with Calendar Girls began with the original movie 20 years ago and along with his writing partner of the musical, Gary Barlow, he has reworked this new production ahead of an extensive UK tour. Tim tells us a little about the new musical and the inspiration behind its reimagining.
“There was something in the heart of lockdown that was all about time; about suddenly being dumped with a container load of it, about managing that, not resenting it, realising you were lucky to have it and not to waste it…if you were well enough to enjoy it. Of course, it’s only looking back that we can get that kind of perspective. For the pair of us it just presented as an inexplicable urge to DO stuff; to write, to plot new work and to re-examine work that already existed. This led us to new projects; it also turned our heads back towards Calendar Girls the Musical.
Now, by this time it was a good few years since we had written the show and there was justifiable trepidation in returning to the project. After all it had been in the West End, done a national tour and was due to be performed by many companies around the UK if lockdown finished. However, that UK was going to have changed. A strange sense of liberation came out of the confinement that meant, we thought – whatever you’re thinking, just try it. Take the chance. Have a fresh look. Take the jump.
Maybe we’ll never get that sense of empowerment again. It was like the bravery you have when starting out as a kid and feel you have nothing to lose. That was it; the spirit we momentarily regained meant we re-wrote like we had nothing to lose. In a sense we were led by the words of Dare, one of the songs in the show; something about taking a jump without the fear meaning you stand a better chance of making a landing on the other side.
The film is twenty years old this year, the real girls more than twenty years older but their story, like their sunflowers, seems to keep reseeding of its own accord; and when it does, the flower is always, always the same. It’s only the shape that changes.”
After opening to rave reviews in the autumn, the brand-new production of the smash-hit production Calendar Girls the Musical, written by Gary Barlow and Tim Firth comes to Woking from Tuesday 26 to Saturday 30 March.
Calendar Girls the Musical brings together a stunning cast of music, stage, and television stars. Baring it all in 2024 are Laurie Brett (Eastenders) as Annie, Liz Carney (The Full Monty, The Mousetrap), Helen Pearson (Hollyoaks), Samantha Seager (Coronation Street), Maureen Nolan (The Nolans, Blood Brothers), Lyn Paul (The New Seekers, Blood Brothers) and Honeysuckle Weeks (Foyle’s War). They are joined by Colin R Campbell, Andrew Tuton, alongside Jayne Ashley, Lucas August and Victoria Hay in the ensemble.
Following the death of a much-loved husband, a group of ordinary women in a small Yorkshire Women’s Institute are prompted to do an extraordinary thing and set about creating a nude calendar to raise money for charity. But upturning preconceptions is a dangerous business and none of the women are prepared for the emotional and personal ramifications they will face as the fabulous and funny calendar brings each woman unexpectedly into flower.
This production sees this incredible true story continue to bloom, this reimagined book and new music sees the show packed with unforgettable songs, bringing the joy to life live on stage.
Tim Firth and Gary Barlow said: “The chance to look again with fresh eyes at our musical is something that came as an unexpected opportunity during lockdown and we’re both hugely excited not only with the shape we found, but also to work on a new production of it with such an amazing cast”
This tour is proud to be supporting Blood Cancer UK, the charity dedicated to funding research into all blood cancers including leukaemia, lymphoma, and myeloma, as well as offering information and support to blood cancer patients. Every performance continues to add to the millions already raised for Blood Cancer UK and prove that there is no such thing as an ordinary woman.
Calendar Girls is at the New Victoria Theatre, Woking from Tuesday 26th March – 30th March
Tickets are on sale visit here for booking links and more information.