Calendar Girls – St Paul’s Players
I think most people are aware of the true story around the original calendar girls, where the
death of a much–loved husband prompted a group of ordinary women in a small Yorkshire
Women’s Institute to do an extraordinary thing. Blasting away all preconceptions of what it is
to be in a women’s institute, they decided to do an artistic nude calendar to raise money for
charity and became a global phenomenon. To date the have raised over £3m for Blood
St Paul’s kicked off the first production of the new theatrical season in style and what a show
kick off with! Co–directors Liz and Lily Blundell and the supporting crew have clearly worked
hard over the last few months as the near capacity audience on opening night were all on
their feet at the end and this show.
This show is a true ensemble piece, no ‘lead’ stars in my view, everyone must work together,
and everyone did. Diane Simmons as Chris was superb as always, full of energy, emotion,
and great comedic timing. Clare Unsworth as Annie was effortlessly excellent, moulding her
character around the grief of losing her husband. You really believed these two characters
were best friends.
Jacqui Brian as Celia, the former air hostess, gave a superb performance, elegant, beautiful
and had some cracking one–liners. Great comedic performance. Judith Armstrong as Jessie
was full of warmth as the former headmistress and the scene where a former pupil realised
who she was had the audience in stiches. Jane McQueen as Cora was excellent, again
great comedy timing and had some touching scenes with her son. Sharon Morris as Ruth
was brilliant, too timid to change until her ‘Russian Friend’ gets involved. The drunken scene
was superb and a lesson on how to play anyone who has had too much to drink. Sarah Lee
as Marie, the chair of the local WI was excellent too, a portrayal of what everyone thinks the
WI leaders are like.
The gentlemen of the cast were all great, kudos to Graham Cohen though who stepped in at
the last minute to play John, a wonderful performance. The husbands played by Andrew
Turton, Barry Heeks and Dax Owen all had their time in the spotlight and were excellent.
Matthew Gavin as Lawrence the photographer was brilliant, ensuring that the buns were big
enough to cover the lady’s modesty. Also, good to see Carole Penny back on stage too as
Lady Cravenshire. Natalie and Joanna Sweet as Miss Wilson (Tea & Coffee) were both
Fine support from the teenage cast too, Harry Cohen as Danny was magnificent as was
Eadie Gosling as Jenny and Ethan Clist as Tommo. The band led by musical director Paul
Stanley was very good too.
Calendar Girls is a deeply touching, uplifting life–affirming piece of theatre and this
production is first–rate. You will not be disappointed.
Runs until Saturday