Category Archives: Musicals

Calendar Girls announces Casting for UK Tour



David Pugh & Dafydd Rogers, the producers of Gary Barlow and Tim Firth’s musical comedy, CALENDAR GIRLS The Musical, based on the true story, the film and the award-winning play by Tim Firth, Calendar Girls, are delighted to announce that the production will return home to Yorkshire and open at the Leeds Grand Theatre on 16 August 2018 at the start of a new UK & Ireland Tour.  The first 30 weeks are listed below, with further dates to be added.

The new tour will star novelist and television presenter Fern Britton, returning to the stage for the first time in 30 years, as Marie, Lorraine Bruce (Kay Mellor’s The Syndicate and theatre credits include Piaf at The Donmar and Vernon God Little at the Young Vic) as Cora, Anna-Jane Casey (Billy Elliot on tour, Stepping Out in London’s West End, title role in Annie Get Your Gun at Sheffield Crucible) as Annie, Sara Crowe (West End roles include Bedroom Farce, The Real Inspector Hound & Black Comedy and Hay Fever) as Ruth, Ruth Madoc (Hi-De-Hi, Little Britain and Gypsy) as Jessie, Rebecca Storm (discovered by Willy Russell and cast as Mrs Johnstone in Blood Brothers, and her handprints are part of the Dublin’s Gaiety Theatre Walk of Fame) as Chris and Denise Welch (The Rise and Fall of Little Voice, Coronation Street and Waterloo Road) as Celia.

The critically acclaimed and award-winning production played a six-month London season at the Phoenix Theatre last year, and, before that, this musical comedy played sold-out seasons in Leeds and Manchester.

Tim Firth said,

“To be given a chance to revisit CALENDAR GIRLS The Musical is a unique opportunity.  Gary [Barlow] and I have been working away and, as the great Stephen Sondheim said, ‘MUSICAL COMEDIES AREN’T WRITTEN, THEY ARE REWRITTEN’.”

Gary Barlow added,

“What a phenomenal new cast we have.  Tim and I sat in – and indeed played – on the auditions and have been so lucky to have put together such talented ladies.”


Gary Barlow and Tim Firth grew up in the same village in the North of England and have been friends for 25 years.  With Take That, Gary has written and co-written 14 number one singles, has sold over 50 million records worldwide and is a six times Ivor Novello Award winner.  Tim has won the Olivier Award and UK Theatre Award for Best New Musical, and the British Comedy Awards Best Comedy Film for Calendar Girls.
CALENDAR GIRLS THE MUSICAL is inspired by the true story of a group of ladies, who decide to appear nude for a Women’s Institute calendar in order to raise funds to buy a settee for their local hospital, in memory of one of their husbands, and have to date raised almost £5million for Bloodwise. This musical comedy shows life in their Yorkshire village, how it happened, the effect on husbands, sons and daughters, and how a group of ordinary ladies achieved something extraordinary.
Bloodwise, the UK’s specialist blood cancer charity, will continue to receive monies from this production.
CALENDAR GIRLS The Musical is directed by Matt Ryan and designed by Robert Jones, with comedy staging by Jos Houben, movement by Lucy Hind and casting by Sarah Bird.



Photography by John Swannell


For full tour details, click on the image below




The Girls – Production Photographs

The Girls – Gala Night Photographs



Austen the Musical – 4 Stars


Austen the Musical

Bread & Roses Theatre

Reviewed – 16th January 2018


“Edith Kirkwood manages to embody both the warmth and ferocity of Jane with commanding presence”


Despite being one the greatest romance writers of all time Jane Austen didn’t have the most successful love life, and in this ninety minute musical Rob Winlow examines the highs and lows of her dating history.

Playing Miss Austen is Edith Kirkwood, who manages to embody both the warmth and ferocity of Jane with commanding presence. Thomas Hewitt demonstrated an impressive vocal talent in his many roles, and although his portrayal of Jane’s first love interest Tom Lefroy felt a little flat he more than made up for it in the characters that followed.

Jenni Lea-Jones was a real standout as Mrs Austen, her clipped and lovingly judgemental tone was very reminiscent of Mrs Bennet and her voice was as strong as her characterisation. Adam Grayson was very warm and likeable as Jane’s father and one could really sense the bond between the two.

A particularly enjoyable scene depicted Mr Austen receiving rejections for his daughter’s works from snobby publishers (played excellently by Hewitt and Lea-Jones). Apart from another scene where Jane is bombarded with story suggestions from the public, there isn’t a lot about the response to her works. It would have been nice to hear more about her professional accomplishments, interesting as her personal life was.

Timothy Trimingham Lee’s direction allows the cast to navigate around the small stage area well, in particular during an amusing scene in which Jane attempts to escape from the hilariously creepy Reverend Blackall (Hewitt) during a ball.

The pace does feel uneven at points, particularly during a long dialogue between Jane and Dr Preston (Hewitt), but overall the writing feels grounded in reality despite the musical elements. The score has some powerful moments, particularly when the cast’s vocals are layered together. The duet between Tom Lefroy and Jane blended the actors’ voices together beautifully.

Arlene McNaught plays both the role of musical director and Cassandra Austen, Jane’s sister. Given that so much of what we know about Jane comes from letters between the sisters it felt very fitting that she would be ever present at the back of the stage. McNaught plays the piano and observes events silently, only interacting with the cast when she comforts Jane after their father’s death.

Though the final song, sung by Mrs Austen moments after Jane has passed away, was touching I was surprised that the show ended there. Perhaps a song about Jane’s legacy and accomplishments would have created a more positive impact on the audience rather than the slightly sombre mood we were left with.

This show is a great experience for anyone who’s curious about Jane Austen’s life, made even more enjoyable by the musical numbers and spot-on characterisation.


Reviewed by Ella McCarron


Austen the Musical

Bread & Roses Theatre until 20th January



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