Following the adaptation of the movie “The Calendars” into a play, the creator of these two artwork, Tim Firth, now presents the musical version “The Girls” written with Gary Barlow the singer of the group Take That.
A fascinating story
The story remains the same but the format changes and becomes more musical in “The Girls”. This story, inspired by real-life facts, tells the wonderful adventure of a group of women living in Yorkshire who decide to create a nude calendar to raise funds for charity. The idea grew when one of them became a widow after her husband’s died of cancer.
If the reason is sad, the result is magnificent: The group managed (in real life) to raise more than £4 million thanks to their calendar sale … This success explains the adaptation of their story to cinema, theater and now musical.
The latter focuses on the realisation of the calendar and on the gathering of girls around the idea. It is Chris, played by the excellent Claire Moore (who was also in The Phantom of the Opera), who got the idea to create this calendar to support her best friend Annie who has just lost her husband John due to a steep cancer . Annie is interpreted by Joanna Riding (Billy Elliot) who portrays perfectly the sadness of a woman who has a just lost her husband but doesn’t give up and fight. Her husband, John (James Gaddas), was passionate about sunflowers and Annie is determined to take care of her plantations and take care of her husband’s “legacy”.
Chris successfully convinces her to join the calendar adventure and they both try to persuade their other friends to join the adventure and undress for charity.
From tears to laughter: a bold but successful bet!
An excellent story full of emotions; Which starts a bit sadly but ends up as a true ode to joy. If anything, the musical shows that routine can be broken if desired and every actions matter. Along the main storylines, stories of adolescents who follow their mother’s project are also developped. In less than 3 hours, you get really attached to the characters because of how well they are portrayed! The only negative point is that unless you know the “original” story, the musical does not talk about the success of the calendar. But this choice can be explained by the fact that Gary Barlow and Tim Firth focused on the pre-success story.
In addition to having a solid history, the musical contains excellent songs — which is not surprising considering that it comes from the excellent composer Gary Barlow. From pop songs that stays in our heads to ballads a little more sad, different styles are present and blend perfectly with the rollercoaster of emotions transmitted. Several characters (including the children of the “Girls”) have their own solo and several songs are sung as a group.
The stage is simple but effective and allow a better contextualization of the scene. The funniest moment is when the girls undresses for the famous photoshoot. None of them have the same position or the same decoration; while one hides her body behind cakes, another hides behind plants, etc.
A daring bet for a West-End musical but the result is nothing short of success. If anything, the explosions of laughter coming from the audience and the standing ovation, is just another proof of it.
Currently paying in Phoenix Théatre until April 22th.
Written by Tim Firth et Gary Barlow
With Claire Machin (seated), Sophie-Louise Dann, Debbie Chazen, Michele Dotrice, Marian McLoughlin, Tim Firth, Gary Barlow, Claire Moore, Joanna Riding.
Gary Barlow performing one of the song from the musical
Gary barlow and the cast of The Girls perform another song from the musical