November 13, 2012

Calendar Girls

The fundraising phenomenon of the Calendar Girls was inspired by the death of Angela Baker's husband John Baker, an Assistant National Park Officer for the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority, who died from non-Hodgkin's lymphoma in 1998. During his illness Angela's friends began to raise money, initially with the aim of purchasing a sofa for the visitors lounge in the hospital where John was treated. To date they have raised over £2 million for Leukaemia Research, the UK's leading blood cancer charity.

 

Taking on a project like Calendar Girls is a brave choice for an amateur dramatic group, and I have to admit that I was sceptical about coming to see it, making sure that we had back row seats so I could make a hasty exit if it all got a bit much! How wrong I was.

Rather than putting on a play about ‘women taking their clothes off’, Producer Lucinda Rowe and Director Mark Sadler took Tim Firth’s witty script and very effectively captured the emotion behind a story that connects with pretty much everyone in the audience. A combination of this and the professional standard of acting made sure that whether through tears or laughter (often both in quick succession) there wasn’t a dry eye in the house.

 

Lou Robinson and Juliet Alexander lead the strong cast as Chris and Annie, a pair of best friends who, following the tragic loss of Annie’s husband John (Anton Jungreuthmayer) to cancer, decide in his honour, to produce a W.I. calendar with a difference to raise money for a new sofa in the relatives’ room at Skipton General Hospital.

With help from fellow W.I. members feisty single mum Cora (Nicola Clark), mousy Ruth (Penny Picken), sparky ex-school mistress Jessie (Lorna Sexton) and glamorous golf-widow Celia (Jill Rogers) they pose nude (not naked!) for their edition of next year’s calendar, much to the disgust of the wonderfully stern Marie (Viv Tyler), head of their W.I branch.

I got the strong impression that the brilliant comic timing and emotional empathy of the Calendar Girls’ performances throughout stemmed to a certain extent from the bonding experience and nervous energy that comes from taking part in such a production together.

The scene where bashful photographer Lawrence (Adam Nicoll) snaps each Calendar Girl, trying to hide his blushes while the ladies swigged vodka shots between poses was particularly brilliant. Equally, poignant moments like when John walks back through the audience in total silence to represent his death or when letters from relatives of cancer patients fall from the ceiling did not shy away from the impact the disease has.

Hats off to the stage and props team, who clearly had an important role to play in this production; and also to the cast, for taking off more than their hats, and giving each of the five audiences an incredible evening out.

 

[Review by: Nicola Robbins]

Director - Mark Sadler
Producer  -  Lucinda Rowe

Cast
Annie  -  Juliet Alexander
Brenda  -  Stella Turner
Celia  -  Jill Rogers
Chris  -  Lou Robinson
Cora  -  Nikki Clark
Elaine  -  Victoria Nicoll
Jessie  -  Lorna Sexton
John  -  Anton Jungreuthmayer
Lady Cravenshire  -  Sue Kennedy
Lawrence  -  Adam Nicoll
Liam  -  Mark Savage
Marie  -  Viv Tyler
Rod  -  Phill Brown
Ruth  -  Penny Picken
Voice  -  Natalie B
Voice  -  Travis Hartman
Voice  -  John Stratford
Voice  -  Mark Sadler
Voice  -  Anna Jones

Crew
Backstage  -  Maxine Shearer
Backstage  -  Alison Cotterill
Backstage  -  Vanessa Cole
Bar  -  Malcolm Brodie
Bar  -  Clare Easterbrook
Bar  -  Carol-Anne McConnellogue
Bar  -  Ed Picken
Bar  -  Martin Carlisle
Bar  -  Mary Hollingdale
Bar  -  Ted Hollingdale
Bar  -  Pete Tyler
Bar  -  John Edwards
Bar  -  Peter Donovan
Bar  -  Aidan Dwyer
Calendar  -  Rupert Hennen
Chris Calendar Costume  -  Vanessa Barker
Director  -  Mark Sadler
Front of House  -  Michael Tackley
Front of House  -  Paul Kerswill
Front of House  -  Margaret Johnson
Front of House  -  Julie Dawson
Front of House  -  Carol Brown
Front of House  -  Val Bryant
Front of House  -  Jackie Cowan
Front of House  -  Maxine Shearer
Front of House  -  Judy McDonnell
Front of House  -  Dave Woodward
Lighting  -  Debbie Bassnett
Lighting Consultant  -  Nicola Stammers
Lighting Designer  -  Stuart Clark
Make-up Artist  -  Tammy Wall
Music  -  Margaret Johnson
Photography  -  Dave Woodward
Photography  -  Rupert Hennen
Photography  -  Mark Sadler
Poster  -  Rupert Hennen
Producer  -  Lucinda Rowe
Programme  -  Rupert Hennen
Prompt  -  Rosie Hamilton-McLeod
Props  -  Dave Tinney
Props  -  Chris Carrell
Props  -  Methodist Chapel
Props  -  St Marys Church
Props  -  Stephen Wood
Props  -  Joy Care
Props  -  Sue Kennedy
Props  -  Nikki Clark
Props  -  Queen Mother Theatre
Props  -  Janet Tackley
Props  -  Valmai Guess
Props  -  Lorna Sexton
Props  -  Gena Edwards
Props  -  Hazel Davies
Props  -  The Fox
Props  -  Dave Woodward
Props  -  Malcolm Kelsey
Props Manager  -  Janet Tackley
Publicity  -  Chris Carrell
Publicity  -  Peter Donovan
Set Design & Construction  -  Neil Tonge
Set Design & Construction  -  Trevor Clark
Set Design & Construction  -  Lizzie Rowe
Set Design & Construction  -  Thomas Rowe
Set Design & Construction  -  Neville Rowe
Set Painter  -  Beth Harding
Sound Engineer  -  Peter Johnson
Special FX  -  Nicola Stammers
Stage Manager  -  Janet Tackley
Theatrical Prop Maker  -  Janet Tackley
Theatrical Prop Maker  -  Ann Fausset
Theatrical Prop Maker  -  Victoria Nicoll
Theatrical Prop Maker  -  Penny Picken
Wardrobe  -  Nikki Clark
Wardrobe  -  Valmai Guess
Wig Consultant  -  Fran Manning

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