Review | Calendar Girls The Musical at Norwich Theatre Royal

Calendar Girls The Musical at Norwich Theatre Royal wasn’t just one of the best musicals I’ve seen, but one of the best things I’ve ever seen on stage. It was a true celebration of Britishness, friendship, defiance and a real emotional rollercoaster. I won’t be forgetting this brilliant evening anytime soon. After a well-deserved standing ovation, I don’t think anyone else will be, either. 

Review | Calendar Girls The Musical at Norwich Theatre Royal

This bloody brilliant musical, was adapted from the hit movie and real life story, by Gary Barlow and Tim Firth. If you aren’t familiar with the storyline, you must have been living under a rock (I jest). Calendar Girls tells the tale of Yorkshire village life through the ladies of the WI. When Annie’s husband looses his battle with Leukaemia, the ladies band together against the odds to create a nude calendar, to raise money for the local hospital. As you may have guessed, by the fact that the words WI and nude rarely go hand in hand, it wasn’t an easy feat; but it made for a hilarious story.

There may be a star-studded cast (featuring Fern Britton, Denise Welch and Sara Crowe to name only a few) but it genuinely felt like I was sitting watching a group of friends going through life together. It was this friendship and the fact that the characters seemed to relatable, which drew me into this emotional rollercoaster of a storyline. The simple set played into this, too. Rolling hills, blue skies, a stone wall and countryside gate provided a beautifully simple backdrop, forcing your focus on the story unfolding.

It really was one hell of an emotional evening. I’m not sure I’ve ever cried so much and then laughed until I couldn’t breathe, in such quick succession. On paper, this a truly a heartbreaking tale, but the story overall was hilarious, heart-warming and uplifting. It really reflected the British sense of humour and the ‘keep calm and carry on’ mentality that a lot of us possess. 

There were so many stand-out scenes during the performance – it’s almost impossible to pick the best. The awkwardness and sexual tension between the teenagers had me laughing out loud. The powerful speech given by Annie and Ruth at the WI conference made me want to stand together with them in solidarity, but it was the nude scene that really stole the show. I’d gone into the theatre wondering whether there would be any nudity and how on earth they would do it.

…And the answer to that question was in style! The audience were in stitches as each of the characters cheekily whipped off their clothes. There were a few rather scandalous flashes here and there, too. Each characters seemed to feed off of the energy of the audience and their friends that went before them. At times, I had to remind myself to breathe. I don’t think I’ve ever heard such hysteria in Norwich Theatre Royal before!   

Whats more, it was really refreshing to see ‘normal’ body types of all ages, seemingly ‘regular folk’ and normal life portrayed on stage. In the age of social media and reality TV, it really was a rare treat. 

Honestly, I couldn’t sing the praises of Calendar Girls The Musical enough! If you get the chance, you absolutely have to go and see this show.

Calendar Girls the Musical is on at Norwich Theatre Royal until 16th February.  The show then continues on its UK tour


These tickets were kindly given to me for the purpose of review.

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