Bristol Hippodrome – until 20 July 2019
Reviewed by Lucy Hitchcock
Gary Barlow and Tim Firth’s adaptation of the bittersweet play Calendar Girls has sprung into Bristol, putting not only a smile on your face but a tear in your eye.
The classic story based on the lives of members of the Women’s Institute in Yorkshire depicts heartbreak, comedy, fun and bravery all whilst tackling a traumatic cancer battle.
Sarah Jane Buckley and Phil Corbett as Annie and John Clarke have a perfect relationship. We find out the John has cancer and he unfortunately passes away, leaving Annie to tackle life without her husband. These two, whilst having a beautiful on stage chemistry, show fantastic vocal ability as they perform Gary Barlow’s brand new songs. The uplifting nature of the songs really adds to the story, and even as we deal with the loss of John, we are always reminded of his cheery character through Barlow’s writing.
Unfortunately, we were halted due to unforeseen circumstances, but had we continued this would have been a brilliant show! For me, the stand out performance was Rebecca Storm as Chris, Annie’s best friend. She was phenomenal, with an air of the late, great Victoria Wood. Her flawless and unfaltering vocal abilities were second to none and she provided a light in the darkest of scenes. She was able to grasp each audience member and give them a hug with her warm and stellar voice-a truly perfect casting and I cannot wait to listen to it again.
Set designer Robert Jones has an immense talent that is not to be missed. The set was so simple yet so intricate, completely transporting you to the heart of Yorkshire-far different from the hustle and bustle of Bristol!
This is a show that, like a sunflower, has grown and become a beacon of light for many people around the country. Definitely, definitely not to be missed.