Since the late 19th century naked calendars have been bought and hung with pride. Admired each month as you turn the page to find a new nude delight. Since the WI started the trend of charity naked calendars in 1999, sports teams, charities and university societies have embraced their birthday suits and got their kit off for a multitude of reasons and causes.
Calendar Girls celebrates the origin of the body embracing movement as well as telling a beautiful true story at the same time. With music written by Gary Barlow and Tim Firth there aren’t many boxes this show doesn’t tick.
The songs are catchy and cleverly written, so even if you don’t consider yourself a Take That fan you find yourself smiling and singing into the night. Lesley Joseph was strong with a song to rally the troops but all had good voices to belt out the empowering songs.
You immediately fall in love with each family involved as each character is introduced to you, and soon feel like part of the North Yorkshire family. Each member of the WI is lovable in their own way, and all six main women are simply brilliant.
Julia Hills as reserved Ruth is hilarious and a great archetype. Sarah Jane Buckley as the heart broken Annie is paired with Rebecca Storm as Chris and make a wonderful duo for the story to build around. Lisa Maxwell as young Celia and Lesley Joseph as older Jessie bring inclusivity to the group. Finally Sue Devaney as Cora is the mum that doesn’t want to embarrass her son completes the ensemble.
It’s a show of two halves, with you learning the motivation behind the calendar in the first and the battle with judgement and the calendars creation in the second.
The themes of female friendship, feminism and feeling good about yourself shine through and make this show so infectiously happy.
As I said, it ticks all the boxes, good music, feel good element, heart wrenching story, brilliant characters. I wholeheartedly recommend this to any man, woman or child who wants to smile.