Review: Funny, sad, moving and very cheeky, Calendar Girls the musical is a triumph for Burnley Light Opera Society
"That show could grace any professional stage."
I have heard that phrase said numerous times (and also said it myself) about the shows produced by Burnley Light Opera Society.
And the society's latest production, Calendar Girls The Musical, is no exception. What an absolute joy this show is, from start to finish, the audience is beguiled by a musical that is funny, moving, sad, at times a bit rude and cheeky, but totally uplifting.
Based on a true story, the musical, by Gary Barlow and Tim Firth, is based on the play and film Calendar Girls written by Tim Firth.
The death of much loved husband, John, played so endearingly by Graham Cheshire, prompts a group of ordinary women in a small Yorkshire women's institute to pose for an 'artistic' nude calendar to raise money for the hospital where John was treated.
Most of them are reluctant to take part at first but as they throw off their inhibitions and society's expectations, each woman begins to blossom and discover a side of themselves they never knew existed.
Joanne Gill played the role of the feisty and independent Chris, who comes up with the idea for the calendar, with amazing energy, enthusiasm, an abundance of talent, a terrific voice and perfect coming timing.
Her best friend Annie, John's widow, is played by Vicky Clarkson beautifully. You could hear a pin drop in the theatre during the highly moving hospital scenes. Vicky brings a real pathos to the role without going over the top.
The sad scenes are balanced out by some hilarious moments, including the exchanges between schoolboys Danny and Tommo (played by Greg Worden and Chris Baines respectively).
The audience loved Anne Chadwick as Ruth singing about growing old disgracefully and Catherine Wright and Celia and Ann Mason as Cora both gave powerhouse performances.
I particularly enjoyed Sarah Farragher singing ‘My Russian Friend and I’ as Ruth, the downtrodden wife who finally ditches the mean husband.
Sue Avanson once again gave a sterling performance as always, this time as the snooty WI chairman Marie.
Now the ladies eventually do create the calendar and some!! I won't give anything away but the scene was amazing and so beautifully constructed.
With director and choregrapher Anthony Williams and musical director Steven Mercer-Murray at the helm, plus a fantastic set and lighting, Calendar Girls The Musical is another triumph for Burnley Light Opera. I, along with the rest of the audience, was on my feet for a well deserved standing ovation.
The show runs nightly at 7-30pm until this Saturday (November 19th) at Burnley Mechanics Theatre. There is also a Saturday matinee at 2-30pm. Tickets are available at the box office on 01282 664400.