Calendar Girls

Date 7th September 2012
Society Ellesmere Port Musical Theatre Company
Venue Floral Pavilion, New Brighton?
Type of Production Play
Director Dawn Kennedy
Musical Director Craig Price?


Author: Budge Grounsell

There was a definite odour in the Floral pavilion last night about 10 p.m. It was a blend of “the Sweet smell of success and “Essence of laughter” and is a heady perfume indeed. I remember seeing the film Calendar Girls but apart from the two leading ladies can remember very little else, however I doubt I will forget this performance for a very long time. Dawn Kennedy the Director handled her strong and talented cast with considerable aplomb and whilst Tim Firth had written excellent dialogue it is still the task of the Director to make the best use of it in relationship to the physical action. Dawn certainly achieved this and the naked, sorry, nude aspects of the play were in the word of the late Kenny Everett “all in the best possible taste.”

It would be easy to think of the “Calendar Girls” as the stars of the show but that would be to ignore the part played by the supporting players all of whom contributed strongly to the story. Elaine (Sara Haynes) very much the beautician and what a gorgeous accent; thankfully not her normal one as I found out later. Brenda (Sandra Bickerton) demonstrating how much playing many parts on amateur stage makes for a seasoned perfomance. Nicky obviously born close to the purple, as the local gentry inspiring a curtsey and queenly address as Maam
What of our male support - John (Ian Devereux-Roberts) whose presence is felt throughout despite his “death” early on. I particularly liked the way his demise was portrayed, as a “walk” off stage; so simple but so effective. If Rod (Andy Nickson) is not from Yorkshire he ought to be, very typical and very good. And then the man with the best job in the showq; the aspiring photographer played so believably by Gareth Anderson. Liam (Martin Hilton) who portrayed the ersrtwhile director of a commercial and whom for some reason I expected any moment to address someone as Honky Tonk, why I don’t know. Well done everyone your presence did much to enhance the storyline.

Most peoples image of the W.I is well known but then they have never come across W I ladies like the ones we encountered and as someone who visits many WIs in the course of a year neither have I. Each of the main protagonists captured characteristics and personalities which fitted ideally with the script and I am sure fulfilled the Director’s interpretation of the particular role. Chris (Julie Rooney) strong, forceful the driving force for new ideas thinking that everyone else would follow her path. Annie (Debbie Devereux-Roberts) whose love for her newly deceased husband provides the catalyst for the calendar to raise funds for a new waiting room settee in the local hospital. Cora (Kimberley Anderson) church organist, single mum, not afraid to speak out and all of this on crutches. I understand that she injured herself during the time the play was rehearsing. The fact that this did not diminish her performance nor that of her fellow perfomers is a tribute to herself and her colleagues. Jessie(Joy McIntosh) if she was or is not a schoolteacher then she ought to be; catching the flavour of the part perfectly. Ruth (Kerry Jones) delightful as the ingenue dithery person to whom it is necessary to apologise if you swear. The scene when she confronts the beautician as her husbands paramour was a gem and her final words when she tells her to “leave”, not very politely, brought a gasp and much laughter from the audience.. Celia (Sheryl Dean) Tall and slightly tarty, “topless on the back of a motorcycle”, quite probably if only to spite her mother and golfer “well it’s the only way I can get to see my husband”. Marie (Pam Watson) chairperson of the WI Cheshire she believes would be more suited to her than Yorkshire. Her name might well have been Hyacinth; a lady my mother would probably have described as “Fur coat and no Knickers”. I thought the Badmington scene was very funny from both Marie’s perception of the height of the net and Ruth's resignation when retrieving the shuttlecock. 7 ladies who far from being dwarves were giants in this wonderful production. If I had a criticism it would be that some of the time interludes might have been slightly shorter but then we would not have the pleasure of listening to Craig Price, musical advisor, tickling the ivories. Well done to everyone both back and on stage.