Dawn goes on an emotional rollercoaster during the opening night of Calendar Girls at Norwich Theatre Royal
The opening night of Calendar Girls was one filled with emotions. One moment we were laughing out loud, the next we were holding back the tears. But throughout, one thing was clear – Norwich loved it!
Set in a sleepy Yorkshire village, the story follows a Women’s Institute group as they step away from tradition to make a nude calendar in order to raise money for charity, following the death of one of group’s husbands. This isn’t a story about cancer though.
The focus is on friendship, love, the celebration of life and empowering women
The focus is on friendship, love, the celebration of life and empowering women, which is so relevant today.
Calendar Girls: The staging
As with The RSC’s Romeo & Juliet, the scenery and sets are kept to a minimum.
The beautiful landscape of the Yorkshire Dales is constantly in view, but the use of a few props and lighting creates inspired scene changes.
The use of a single chair and square spotlight during the hospital scenes cleverly ensured the audience’s focus was only on the actors. Seamless transitions from Colin’s hospital appointments and worsening illness, to the village carolling and Mayday fete were impressive and created a resemblance to the rollercoaster of emotions life can throw at us.
Ultimately this production was about the ensemble but naturally there were standout performances.
I was blown away by Anna-Jane Casey – wow, what a voice ! – and her stage presence was captivating. Raw emotion allowed us to feel her heartache and really believe her character. Beside her was Rebecca Storm, who gave a strong and endearing performance as Annie’s best friend Chris.
Brilliantly timed wit and a cheeky flash from Karen Dubar as Cora added hilarity to most scenes, while Fern Britton (best known for co-hosting This Morning) was brilliant as “Mrs Conventional” Marie – Chair of Knapley’s WI.
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Sara Crowe was great as ditsy, innocent Ruth, who hilariously became a different woman after a few vodkas! And Denise Welch (Coronation Street and Loose Women) relished the role of ex-air hostess Celia. Her confident performance of I’ve Had A Little Work Donewas funny and uplifting.
I should also mention that the soundtrack is very catchy. In fact, I’ve already downloaded a couple of songs, my favourite being Dare. Oh, and there’s no question of Gary Barlow’s involvement – there is a definite Take That vibe throughout the production.
There is a definite Take That vibe throughout
In summary, it’s a joyful show full of love, laughter and a little cheek. Calendar Girls is sunshine on a cloudy day! You won’t be disappointed!
Calendar Girls plays at Norwich Theatre Royal until Saturday 16 February 2019. Click here to book online or call the box office on 01603 630000.
Image credit: John Swannell