Calendar Girls The Musical

"A truly wonderful night of entertainment and I very much look forward to my next visit to see TFTR perform!"

Supporting local theatre is always an honour, so imagine my delight when I was invited to the Third From The Right’s (TFTR) production of Calendar Girls The Musical at my local Cornbow Hall in Halesowen.

I have seen this show twice before, once in the West End and then the touring production.  Each time, I’ve absolutely loved it, and it was definitely three times a charm!  I was blown away by the talent on stage and would wholeheartedly recommend a visit before it finishes on the 19th.

Let’s first talk about the cast.  This musical is a complete ensemble piece, so if there is a weak link then the overall feel for the show is hampered.  It’s a very good job then that the whole cast were superb.  This show has many comedic moments, alongside many heartfelt moments due to the story centring around a grieving wife who has lost her husband to cancer and this was definitely delivered exceptionally well throughout.

Best friends Chris (Natalie Baggott) and Annie (Sarah Coussens) hatch a plan to create an “alternative” Women’s Institute calendar to raise money for the local hospital in order to furnish them with a new sofa for the relative’s room.  Baggott was nothing short of perfection in her portrayal of Chris.  Clearly a seasoned performer with many years of experience, you could tell that she belongs on a stage with many incredible vocal performances including her rendition of ‘Sunflower’ amongst many more musical treats. Equally, Coussens emotion was clear to see during Annie’s darker moments whilst losing her husband to this terrible disease.  Again, there were some stand out vocal moments during ‘Scarborough’ and ‘Kilimanjaro’.

The comedic moments are peppered throughout the show and many of the characters have their own moment to shine.  The members of the Women’s Institute bring a real warmth to the stage and all the ladies really should be commended for their fantastic performances. The absolute highlight must be during Act 2 when all the ladies finally have their pictures taken for the calendar. It was a joy to see so many ladies with unwavering confidence disrobing before our eyes, cue the multiple rounds of applause provided by the audience!  Body positivity was in full force and it was wonderful to witness.

The set is very minimal but effective with backdrops of the rolling hills of Yorkshire during Act 1 and a multitude of sunflowers adorning the stage during Act 2. The stage isn’t the biggest at the Cornbow Hall, but the cast used every inch to great effect.  The music was provided by a wonderful band under the musical direction of Chris Corcoran. 

I obviously can’t name check everyone, however as an ensemble piece, this production really was something special and I am so pleased that we have such an amazing level of talent available on our doorstep.  There was nothing amateur about this show and every single person involved should be commended for their professionalism and attention to detail throughout.  There was however the odd sound issue with microphones on the night, however it did not detract from the performance.

With music by Gary Barlow and story by Tim Firth and Juliette Towhidi, Calendar Girls has you laughing one minute and welling up with the tears the next. At the core, it’s about friendship and the willingness to help others at a moment when you are at rock bottom dealing with loss.

A truly wonderful night of entertainment and I very much look forward to my next visit to see TFTR perform!

Tickets available here : Third From The Right Productions – Black Country and Proud (tftrproductions.co.uk)

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