Review: Make a date at Milton Keynes Theatre with Calendar Girls the Musical

Calendar Girls the Musical has arrived at Milton Keynes Theatre, but should you make a date to see it in the flesh this week?
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The naked truth is that Tuesday’s press night ended up being an entertaining romp, albeit the story took most of the first act to set the scene before it really hit its stride.

Calendar Girls, written by Gary Barlow and Tim Firth, follows a group of women in a small Yorkshire Women’s Institute who are prompted to create a nude calendar following the death from leukaemia of the much-loved husband of one of their members, Annie. In doing so they intend to raise funds for a sofa in his honour for the relatives room at the local hospital.

The cast includes Tanya Franks (EastEnders) as Annie who did a great job, especially in the touching scenes with her cancer-stricken hubby.

Calendar GirlsCalendar Girls
Calendar Girls

Another stand-out performer was Amy Robbins (Coronation Street) as Chris – who only joined the WI to impress her mother-in-law and isn’t adverse to sticking a shop-bought Victoria Sponge in the cake baking competition!

Playing the other WI members are Maureen Nolan (as Ruth), Jayne Ashley as Jessie (an understudy on Tuesday for regular Lyn Paul), Paula Tappenden as Marie, Marti Webb (Celia) and Honeysuckle Weeks (Cora).

It’s the 100th anniversary of the WI branch and they want to make it an anniversary to remember – the icing on the cake would be to beat Rotary’s fundraising efforts.

Not everyone is convinced, however, that a traditional mundane WI calendar is the way to hit new heights - with a teapot, embroidery, knitting and plum jam lined up as some of the monthly photos.

So then they ponder… What’s very much part of the WI but not on the calendar? Yes, it’s the women!

Chris, a former Miss Yorkshire, is notorious for coming up with crazy ideas – and the other WI members take more than a bit of convincing that her latest, the nude calendar, isn’t the craziest yet. “Couldn’t we do a tombola instead” says one, while another takes to the bottle to give her the courage to strip off.

The actual naked shots are extemely tastefully done with iced buns, flowers, and knitting needles with balls of wool among the props which are cleverly positioned to avoid the audience getting an eyeful!

The singing was slightly hit and miss at times, and in some cases I found it tricky to pick up on the words – but nothing to spoil your enjoyment of what was a fun evening overall.

The tour is proud to be supporting Blood Cancer UK, the charity dedicated to funding research into all blood cancers including leukaemia, lymphoma, and myeloma, as well as offering information and support to blood cancer patients.

If you feel like adding the show to your October calendar then it runs at Milton Keynes Theatre until Saturday. Book your tickets now here.