Just before half-term, I headed out for an evening of fun with a college friend, whom I was meeting after 17 years. We were off to see The Girls at the Phoenix Theatre.
The Girls is a musical by Gary Barlow and Tim Firth, based on the 2003 movie, Calendar Girls and the play Calendar Girls (2009). It tells the story of the Yorkshire Women’s Institute ladies who posed nude for a Pirelli style calendar. The story also documents the life of the people in Yorkshire over a period of time with lives being lost, husbands being unfaithful and children being children.
The story was well-woven with the music. Each actor played their part to perfection. And each of them is portrayed to have problems of their own – problems that we would all relate to. With each singing a solo – they seem to tell their story within it. All the women are portrayed as strong characters – sometimes hilarious, sometimes emotional. The female leads are older women letting us know in no uncertain terms that there is still space for older actors on stage.
Chris (Chris Moore) is the brainchild behind posing nude for the calendar, because she wants to fund a sofa for the hospital ward where her best friend Annie’s husband died of cancer. She has misgivings though when her teenage son seems to have problems that she thinks are her fault.
Annie is Chris’ friend and this role was played by understudy Jenny Gayner on the night we watched it. She played her part like it was made for her and has an amazing voice. I loved her rendition of Scarborough.
Ruth (Debbie Chazen) is perfect in the role as she hits the bottle to run away from her marital problems.
Celia (Sophie-Louise Dann) is ‘Miss July’ who doesn’t feel shy to shout out that she’s ‘had a little work done’. She’s sassy and can’t be bothered with what the ladies at the golf club might think of her new modelling role.
Cora (Claire Machin) is a single mum who is so much fun but doesn’t want to rock the boat and damage her image as choir mistress.
And last but not least, Jessie (Michele Dotrice) is hilarious with her declarations of joining the others for the calendar but does not want her ‘front bottom’ showing.
The nudity was tasteful – nothing tacky there. And the scene of the girls’ photoshoot was ever so funny.
It was a lovely play to watch and it really picked up after the interval.
I loved the stage design too which was surprisingly different with cabinet boxes standing in for the Yorkshire Dales.
My friend and I enjoyed it and it was a wonderful way to end our evening.
You’ll laugh and you’ll cry and it’s well worth booking your tickets for this one. Click here for information about the show.