ACT Reviews 2022-2023 Season

CALENDAR GIRLS by Gary Barlow & Tim Firth Directed by Michael McCaw The Drama Dept. Stockport Plaza As I reflected on this musical production in the days following, I thought about the definition of the term emotional – “having intense feelings…that are openly displayed”. I further thought about art in its many forms and concluded that that is what anyone strives for when taking part in painting, music, drama or any genre – to make the watcher, listener and audience feel something. This production certainly embraced this meaning; from the opening bars of the National Anthem played by the band and a sombre audience standing in quite reflection and singing the altered version, inserting new pronouns. Seeing projected interviews and reading personal accounts in the programme of the impact that various forms of cancer have had on people known or otherwise and on those close relatives and friends that supported them through the fight. This led into the musical itself when emotions started to surface. I am not ashamed to document that during the evening, tears did indeed well up and I am certain that I was not the only person in the auditorium to experience this as I empathised with those on stage taking us through the story. It has been over 20 years since the story of a Yorkshire branch of the WI produced a nude calendar to raise money. Since then it’s been turned into a popular film, a stage play, and now has a lease of life as a musical. The writing of the script evokes thoughts of seaside postcards and British humour, with tongue in cheek asides to relieve tensions or lighten the mood. Here, I think the writers, production team and actors cleverly achieved giving the subject matter the gravitas that it requires but balancing it with the scripted dialogue, songs and delivery so that it kept the production light, heart-warming and enjoyable.