Calendar Girls Blossoms at York Grand Opera House

York Stage’s production of Calendar Girls will remind you that it’s okay to be yourself, every month of the year 5 stars.

(Image: York Stage)

This week, the York Grand Opera House was awash with sunflowers as York stage brought their production of Calendar Girls flowering onto stage.

Based on the 2003 movie starring Helen Mirren and Julie Walters, the musical recounts the true tale of a Yorkshire Women’s Institute attempting to raise money in memory of a late friend and husband, by creating a nude calendar. A beautiful and empowering story, this production is bursting with community, heart and Yorkshire charm.

Boasting an impressive local cast, including an energetic performance from the University of York’s very own Izzie Norwood, onstage friendships shine and the performers bounce naturally between humour and deep emotions.

The gals bring heart and honesty to the Women’s Institute, breathing life into the unique passions and life stories of each member, as well as playfully executing an empowering final act.
And supporting our heroines are a wholesome crew of husbands, sons and families, bringing love, heart, fun and humour to this energising journey.

Particular standouts of the company include Jo Theaker, whose powerful expression of grief is guaranteed to leave you sobbing, and Julie Anne Smith, whose light charm and heartfelt confidence are intoxicating- with the pair forming just the most charming kind of friendship that we all strive for.

Nik Briggs’s direction nourishes genuine relationships on stage, creating a layered and loving story out of a simple setting. It really feels like you’re watching a small town family living their lives on stage.

The stage itself is transformed into a quaint country setting, white picket fence, green grass and all, with the centre space representing everything, from a hospital to the town hall, depending on which set piece is flown in. Simple, practical and wonderful at allowing the emotions of the actors speak for themselves.

The musical direction of Jessica Douglas is emotive and powerful, with a good dash of fun thrown in there. The songs are catchy and cathartic, and I especially adored the heartbreaking renditions of ‘Scarborough’ and ‘Kilimanjaro’ and the delightful ‘What Age Expects’.
You will, without a doubt, leave humming Yorkshire’s new unofficial anthem ‘Another Year in Yorkshire’, boasting a new sense of pride to live in this lovely part of the world.

While Gen Z may find the Women’s Institute unfamiliar or outdated, the body empowerment in the show’s final act is certainly not. The calendar shoot is handled with class, respect and imagination and had the audience cheering with pride and wonder at the brave and confident self-acceptance of the women. The atmosphere was inspired and flourished into a wonderful array of laughter, tears and electric standing ovations.

A rollercoaster of the best kind, Calendar Girls is a sweet, honest, heartfelt and truly empowering musical that is not to be missed.

Calendar Girls will be playing until April 30th at the York Grand Opera House.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.