Calendar Girls

Date 10th November 2023
Society Winchester Musicals & Opera Society
Venue The Theatre Royal, Winchester
Type of Production Musical
Director Olivia Conroy
Musical Director Alison Benton
Producer Daniel Williams
Written By Gary Barlow and Tim Firth

Report

Author: Mark Allen

Having seen the film and also recently attended the stage show for Calendar Girls, it was interesting to see the different styles of approach to this very well known story, based on the true happenings at Rylestone and District WI in 2000 to raise money to buy a sofa for the relatives' room at the local hospital.

Warmly greeted, as I always am, by the front of house we took our seats and settled in for what we hoped would be a good evening. We were not to be disappointed. The Theatre Royal in Winchester is a traditional old Victorian theatre with the ability to fly. The set, based in Rural Yorkshire was well laid out with good spaces to allow the cast to move around well, it also meant that when the scene changes occured there was plenty of room, the backstage crew led by Angie Barkes were swift and kept the down time to a minimum. This coupled with inventive reversable flats and truck went very smoothly. The lighting was very effective and lent itself very well to add to the mood changes. Sound was good, the words both spoken and sung were easy to hear, so despite knowing the story, you could follow the action easily

The performances from all the principals was of a very high standard. Diction, expressions, accents, attitude and emotions were all brillianty delivered by all and made this both very funny and very emotional. Very moving. The band led by Alison Benton were of a very high professional standard and the obvious work by her during the rehearsal period with the cast meant that all married up very well. 

The show was directed by Olivia Conroy, this was her debut, but you would never know. The cast all knew where they were supposed to be, and when, none of them looked unsure and their diction, as with the principles was clear, unhurried and confident. 

The principles, all of them (but especially the ladies) were superb. This is a very brave piece to undertake, especially given the subject matter and the calendar photoshoot scene was so very funny, and very tastefully done. No shrinking violets are the Winchester ladies. All brought their own individuality to each role. So, and in no particular order, Rachel Wells, Katie Hickson, Katharine Stothert, Liz Petley-Jones, Katie Jacobs and Suzanne Hall, bravo to all of you. A job brilliantly well done. Guys, you did well too!

I am always amazed at the standard of shows that Winchester Musical and Opera Society produce. This show was no exception. Myself and the audience were brilliantly entertained. Thank you. See you for Priscilla in May.